Facing Fears

For Book Club this month we're reading "My Year With Eleanor: A Memoir" by Noelle Hancock. It's about a girl who was laid off from her job, and realized that she needed to make some big changes. Inspired by something Eleanor Roosevelt once said: "Do one thing that scares you every day", she went on a year-long quest to do just that. She decided that for one year, she'd do something she feared each day. 

This may sound like quite an endeavor, but I guess I kinda did something similar myself! There's definitely value that can be found in making these kinds of decisions each day. The trick is identifying when (and why) you're holding back, then actually make the choice to move forward and actually do it. 

Last year, I did quite a few things that scared the crap out of me. Remember when I had to overcome my fear of drowning while on a whitewater kayaking trip? Definitely one of the highlights! Another was understanding how to deal with the daily struggles of life without booze (a repeat battle throughout the year). Oh yeah, and I dove right in to starting my own freelance career!

While reading this book, I started thinking about all of the times I've decided to take a risk. Those moments have always lead to something memorable happening. It may have been something positive, or it may have led me to a lesson that I needed to learn - but either way, there have consistently been interesting results.

My little sister reminded me the other day of when in September 2012 that we (along with our awesomely brave friend Megan) shaved our heads to raise money for St. Baldrick's Foundation

Getting all that hair shaved right off! On stage! With a band! 

Getting all that hair shaved right off! On stage! With a band! 

I love this photo of Taryn and me a little too much. (Before + After)

I love this photo of Taryn and me a little too much. (Before + After)

The scary part wasn't going up on stage, or even the act of getting all of my hair shaved off in front of a bunch of strangers in a bar. The scary part was dealing with all the thoughts swimming in my head: Would I still feel beautiful without my hair? Would people judge me? Would I still be able to walk around without hair with confidence? What will people think? 

I feel that I have a lot of confidence in myself. I love who I am, but it took me a long time to get here. I still struggle at times (I'm human!), but this scary little choice definitely shook me though. So I found a way to get the power back. I had my friend Dave Wood take some glamour shots to remind me of everything I may have forgotten. 

Yep, that's me! No frills, no hair, no problem. 

Yep, that's me! No frills, no hair, no problem. 

Seeing the images from that photo shoot helped me remember that I AM beautiful, and I don't need hair to prove it. 

I learned SO MUCH about myself by making this decision. I learned what it's like to let go of that aspect of beauty, and truly embrace the face and body I was given. I learned how awesome it is to have 15 extra minutes in the morning that's not spent on hair styling. I learned how knit hats can stick on like Velcro. I learned that hair really isn't that big of a deal - and it always grows back. 

In New York City, a few months after the head-shaving. The hair was growing back!

In New York City, a few months after the head-shaving. The hair was growing back!

Maybe it's a good metaphor for life: No matter how much we are hurt, or how much damage has been done, or how much hair has been cut off - time will always march forward. Scar tissue forms over the wounds. People make us laugh again. Things do grow back. 

This is one of my favorite quotes that Noelle Hancock used in My Life with Eleanor. It's a bit dramatic for the head shaving business, but it's more about overcoming our fears, and I like it very much:

The encouraging thing is that every time you meet a situation, though you may think at the time it is an impossibility and you go through the tortures of the damned, once you have met it and lived through it you find that forever after you are freer than you ever were before....You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’
— Eleanor Roosevelt

So my advice to you is to go forth, and take those risks! Do things that scare you. Learn all that you can in the little time we have on this earth. Talk to that boy you think is cute, sign up for that kickboxing class, go back to school, quit your job, go skydiving, kayaking, rollerskating.

HAVE FUN, scare yourself a little, and make stories to tell!