Overcoming Self-loathing and Anxiety, Uncategorized

I Did Something Scary This Weekend (and I’m Really Glad I Did)

This weekend I did something scary, and I am really glad I did it. I flew out to Santa Barbara, California by myself to present a paper at a philosophy conference at UC Santa Barbara.

Now, I have presented at philosophy conferences before. I have also flown by myself in the past. However, in the past when I have flown by myself, I have flown to the house of friends or family members, and they were always there at the airport to pick me up.

This time, I not only flew by myself, I also flew to a completely new place to which I had never been and arranged for transportation to my motel and to UC Santa Barbara.

I was excited. I was also really, really scared.

I love to present papers at philosophy conferences. I get to hang out with friends and colleagues and discuss cool ideas. I always learn a lot. I feel pretty confident about doing these things.

What I don’t feel as confident about is navigating transportation, motels, and travel details by myself. In fact details like this really make me nervous. They certainly made me nervous on this trip.

The whole week before I went, I got increasingly anxious. I was trying to finish my paper; wrap up my classes at the college where I teach; pack; and confirm last minute details.

I felt overwhelmed and was worried I would forget something important. I was afraid I would get to Santa Barbara and somehow get stranded.

I got so anxious that I started dreading the trip. I was still dreading it even when I got to  the airport.

This story does have a happy ending.

I got to Santa Barbara safely.

airport (3)

I figured out how to get to my hotel room and conference. I ran into a colleague and friend, and we were travel buddies. That helped a lot.

I fell in love both with Santa Barbara and with the the college campus.

Tree #2

Beach.jpg

I got to walk on the beach.

Surf board (2)

Me at beach (2).jpg

I hung out with palm trees at my motel.

Courtyard with lights

I really enjoyed the conference. I had a great time presenting my paper.

I got back home safely.

One of the coolest things about this weekend is that I feel more confident about my ability to navigate new situations, to solve problems, and to take care of myself.

I definitely had to work through some anxiety and lack of confidence to get there, but it was worth it.

This weekend reminded me of something I learned a while ago: There are moments in our life when we have the opportunity to become a larger version of ourselves by going on new adventures or learning new skills.

Quite frequently in these moments, we feel afraid and lack confidence. Sometimes in these situations, our lack of confidence and our fear makes us feel bad. Perhaps we feel that if we were stronger or wiser or better in some way, we wouldn’t feel fear in these situations.

Becoming a new and more powerful version of ourselves requires a certain amount of stepping off a cliff and trusting that there is going to be a bigger and better version of ourselves there to catch us.

That’s always scary. It’s also worth it.

I write this for anyone who is about to do something new and challenging–especially if you feel afraid. A bigger and better version of you is waiting. It’s okay that you feel afraid. You can do it.

Sunset #2 (2)

*****

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23 thoughts on “I Did Something Scary This Weekend (and I’m Really Glad I Did)”

  1. Dear Shelly, I exactly understand what you share! Wishes galore on your personal travel victory! You did all that I have only imagined doing – dream of doing and imagine going through similar anxiety when I do get an opportunity ?

  2. That’s fabulous! It’s so glad it worked out well.
    Avoiding a situation makes us more fearful of it the next time. I love that feeling of victory getting myself through a scary situation. For me it was getting lost in the car, or taking a wrong turning. It’s taken much experience & sometimes I still panic but for shorter periods & I have eventually managed to reframe it as adventure.
    Kudos for going, & for growing through a scary experience. & how fab to have a travel buddy!

      1. you’re welcome 🙂
        It’s the start of learning that, “so what if x does happen, I’ve survived it before. I know it’ll be ok”

  3. Good for you, Shelly! You didn’t let your fears hold you back. 🙂 This winter I must follow your good example and learn some new arty things… 🙂

  4. This post really spoke to me Shelly. Congratulations on managing that trip – it will make it much easier next time. I started travelling again in 2018 after a long gap due to depression and anxiety. Best thing I ever did.

  5. Congratulations for both achievements. It is a big deal presenting a paper and navigating a new place. You are voluntarily making yourself vulnerable, and that is true bravery. I hope you feel excited about doing similar things again. With much love.

    1. That is so kind, Ali! And you make a really insightful point. In doing stuff like this, we voluntarily make ourselves vulnerable, and that always feels scary at first. And I do, indeed, feel excited about doing similar things. I am actually looking forward to my next trip. I don’t know when it will be, but I am excited.

  6. By the way, when I travel alone, I pretend I am playing at being a grown-up. As a child I loved pretending I was a grown-up and sitting in my mum’s car pretending to drive, going on adventures. I try to replicate that excitement as an adult and then it makes me feel really lucky to be able to have such adventures.

    1. I love this idea of “playing grown up”. I actually think that might help me when I next feel afraid about stuff like this. If I pretend I am playing grown up, that means I don’t have to have everything figured out. I can just pretend for a while that I do. Thanks for that tip!

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