How is being afraid helping you?

While compiling my “40 Things” list, I unexpectedly uncovered some things about myself. Specifically, a personality trait—and one I’m not particularly proud of.

Over the past half-decade or so, I’ve seen myself become complacent and cautious, in ways I would have never expected only a few years ago. My thirst for adventure is shot, and my simple curiosity is practically non-existent.

Hoping to trace back to the foundation of where this behavior derived, I discovered that—although there have been circumstances, events and situations—most of this frightening end product has come from Me. How I…myself, this chick…has learned to handle life.

No one can control what happens; all one can control is their reaction and that subsequent result.

In the classic movie “The Courtship of Eddie’s Father” (starring an adorable 8 year-old Opie Cunningham), one of the characters—a tall, striking redhead—is stricken with crippling shyness and fear. We first meet Dolly as a stranger who approaches Eddie and his father at an arcade. She timidly asks if she can borrow the son for a few minutes to sit with her while she gets her picture painted on a tie. This request was returned with confused looks. She explained that she would feel safer from “mashers” if the 8 year-old boy could simply sit with her.

We later learn that this painting expedition was part of a plan. Because Dolly’s infliction was arresting her development and joy of life in general, she’d enrolled in a course where she was learning:

The Eight Golden Rules for Poise & Confidence

Having her picture painted on the tie was Rule 1:
“Become Outgoing: Do something you’re afraid to do but really want to.”

It took Dolly an hour of hanging around the arcade then finally approaching a friendly face (and another simpatico redhead) to give her the courage to do a thing she greatly desired but was terrified of.

As my “40 Things” is taking shape, I’m keeping Dolly’s mantra in the back of my mind. And whenever I feel the panic of fear, I remember something else a very wise friend recently pointed out, “How is being afraid helping you?”

So no, you won’t see me getting my picture painted on any tie. But I do intend to take some chances and learn to be brave. And maybe that’s enough for now.


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