I have a lot of irrational fears. I’ll be the first to admit that they don’t always make sense, but that doesn’t make them any less frightening. I’m an only child, which I think has a lot to do with it. But one thing I’ve learned over the years is that even when I don’t want to, or I’m too afraid to, overcoming fear is essential for my personal peace and mental health.
I could very easily become the woman who never leaves her home. You’ll never find me without hand sanitizer (yes, I’m that mom), and I have different systems for my checks and balances.
For example, whenever I unplug my hair straightener, I have to stand still in the same spot every morning and repeat, “unplugged, unplugged, unplugged” three times before I can fully believe I unplugged it. If I don’t follow that pattern, then all I think about all day is my beautiful home going up in flames, claiming the life of my beloved dog and ruining our dreams. Then, what if it got pegged as a suspicious fire, and all of a sudden I’m being sent to prison for arson? Leaving my son to grow up without a mother. He’ll grow up with trust issues and never be able to find the right person to settle down with.. And that’s not fair to him! He deserves nothing but the best. But I will have ruined him. My husband will have filed for divorce long before my early release for good behavior, and I’ll be sent back into the world old, gray, saggy, and without love. My mind can be an exhausting place sometimes. I shake, I sweat, I lose focus. It’s not cute. And don’t even get me started on public restrooms..
*For the record. I’ve never been clinically diagnosed as having OCD, but it wouldn’t surprise me given my history, social anxiety, and other personal demons. I’m also pretty great at self-diagnosis.
But enough about that. The point of this post isn’t to convince any of you of my mental stability or to gain sympathy votes for my husband. “Poor Chad. Did you know he has to put his wife in a padded room at night just to keep her safe?” “Poor Chad. I just knew something was a little off about his wife. She’s a mess. I bet she can’t be left alone with the children!”
I’m also not so glib. I’m a hospice nurse and I’ve seen more tragedy than most could believe. Before that, I worked with children with disabilities. I’ve seen sadness and suffering. I have a lot of fears related to my friends, my family, myself. But those fears I won’t breathe life to by giving them words or dwelling on them. That’s where my faith comes in. God did not give me a spirit of fear, but of power, and love, and a sound mind.
Let’s stick with the superficial, shall we? I’m not talking about FOMO, but I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it means to truly face fears and embrace the spiritual growth that comes with doing such. Don’t get me wrong.. I have no plans on ever jumping out of an airplane. I’m not crazy, remember? Say it with me now.. Natasha is not crazy. But I think of myself where I am now compared to where I was ten years ago, and it makes me proud to see the differences, as subtle as they may be. I wouldn’t see a lot of them if I hadn’t grown up and faced some of the things that once scared me or gave me anxiety.
This thought process actually came to light earlier this week when I faced one of my biggest life fears: whales. I’m only telling you this to prove a point. I have been afraid of whales for as long as I can remember. I have no idea why, and yes, I realize it doesn’t make sense. If I had a dollar for every time someone said something like, “but have you ever actually seen a whale?!” -no. “But you’re from the Midwest!” -so? “But where does this fear come from?!” -I DON’T KNOW! Maybe it has something to do with the story of Jonah. It turned out alright, but he was swallowed by a whale. And didn’t something similar happen in the Disney rendition of Pinocchio? America is obsessed with sharks, but I’m telling you – we got it all wrong. A whale won’t hesitate to swallow you up if you swim in their sea. Truthfully, I really don’t know where this fear stems from. But I’ve always had it. Earlier this week we took our son to Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. I read on the map that Beluga Whales live there, and I already knew Chad would make me view that exhibit. I could already hear the laughter and picture the response I would get from my friends who have known me forever and have seen me hide when the Pacific Life commercials come on TV. I was down for giving it a try. I wasn’t even that nervous! Look at me go! That all changed the minute I walked down the stairs and fifty feet directly in front of me stood the biggest fish tank I’ve ever seen and about five belugas swimming around. I immediately started crying. I was mortified. And terrified! Someone please get me out of there! I wish I could tell you that this experience changed me down to my core. That I saw a light from above and by the end of the day I had signed up for my first whale-trainer course to get me in the tank with them. NO. What I can tell you about is my son. My beautiful, intelligent, curious son. He was pressed so hard against that glass watching in awe as each whale swam by him. He couldn’t get enough. He loved every second of it and he didn’t want to leave. He handled that day like a champ, which is more than I can say for his cowering mother. All in all, though. I did it. I was in a room with whales and I survived. Not everyone is lucky enough to tell that tale. (Whales are killer, I’m telling you). Now, when someone starts to question my fear I can answer, why YES, inquiring mind. I HAVE seen a whale in person. YES, inquiring mind, it was a horrifying experience!
In all seriousness, I truly believe you won’t get far in life or achieving what you want if you let your fears hold you back. I was scared about starting my weight loss journey, and look at me now. It was the best thing I could have ever done for myself. I was scared about giving love another chance and following my heart when I met my husband- and now look at our blessings. I’ve parasailed, I’ve flown in airplanes, I’ve traveled the world. I was scared for the longest time about starting a blog. I was even more scared to let people who actually know me, know about this blog. But what will they think about me?! What will they say?! Im not a writer by trade. I’m not a certified nutritionist or a trainer or anything in the world of health other than a nurse. Who do I think I am talking about healthy lifestyles and dishing out advice? Furthermore, I was as anxious as could be about posting my before and after pictures. But people will see what I looked like then! And now! (Natasha, get a grip. They had eyes then and they have them now. Figuring out the changes isn’t rocket science). At the end of the day, though, I’m a real person. A real mother with real experiences and real struggles. And I really want to get those thoughts out. Posting this blog publicly was a big step for me, and it was like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders by doing so. I don’t expect everyone to read it or like it, or subscribe to it (which you can do at the bottom of this page!!) But I’m ok with that. I am not for everyone. I can be a little much sometimes. I recently saw something posted on Instagram that said everyone should have the following three hobbies in life: the one to make you happy, the one to keep you in shape, and the one to be creative. This is my creative.
Here’s one last thought for the day. There’s something I’ve wanted to do for a really long time but fear has held me back. I’ve been afraid of running a 5K. I know it’s a small feat for a lot, but for me-it’s the ultimate goal. I know I could easily walk/run one, but I want to run one. And I don’t want to fail. I’m not setting a target date YET, but I commit to having completed my first 5K by the end of 2016. (I feel the need to give myself a lot of training room. It’s a safety net. Plus we’re embarking upon fall and I need to focus my attention currently on pumpkin spice. Don’t judge).
What fear will you commit to facing and overcoming?
Some things I will probably always be afraid of:
- Edward Scissorhands
- Riding on a jet ski with my husband (sorry, Chad)
- Contracting something from a toilet seat
Natasha Funderburk is a wife, #boymom, NASM-Certified Personal Trainer, Certified Nutrition Consultant, and ACE-Behavior Change Specialist. When not watching her son play baseball, she can be found on various writing platforms, coaching her clients to live their best lives, drinking all the coffee, and conducting living-room dance parties.