[Note: While looking for possible images to post with this, coming across "gondola accidents" and "ski lift fall" did not reduce my gondola-anxiety in the slightest. Thank you Google, for making scaring the shit out of myself one easy click away...]
After my 2012 bucket list post, I had an epiphany that started with an imaginary gondola. Chris and I booked a trip to Colorado in January because we wanted to learn how to snowboard and/or ski. By the time we arrived, I put a lot of obstacles in my way – I didn’t book or reserve anything that week. I didn’t look into pricing. I didn’t do any cardio, balance or flexibility exercises leading up to the trip to prepare myself. When we got there, I had a nice array of valid excuses to select from. Even though all those excuses were waiting for me, I kept thinking about the damn gondola. I pictured myself having a hard time hopping off and getting out of the way, and all the imaginary angry ski bunnies in my mind were mad and inconvenienced. The imaginary gorgeous athletic ski instructor (who looks remarkably like James Marsden) grumbled and sighed, as he did some crazy maneuver to get me out of the way before the next gondola smacked me in the back of the head, or before I caused someone else to have an accident. Some people have anxiety over the very real fear of breaking bones while skiing; my anxiety is about inconveniencing people. The cast of characters in my little imaginary world consists of every asshole I have ever come across in my life, when reality shows me that there are at least 100 amazing people to each asshole. Why is that?
Needless to say, we backed out. Sure, lift tickets were $110 a piece, and a private lesson was a whopping $500, and sure, I still had fun and the poor husband came down with Mongolian Death Worm anyway, but it ate away at me. I knew this was my “do something you’re afraid of” moment, and I let it pass by. I made a promise to myself years ago that I would not let my life be dictated by fear, and yet here I was, avoiding things.
Since then, every hesitation I’ve had nagged at me. It never occurred to me that so many little things have been avoided because of some level of fear. I had to confront each of them to make up for my not-a-ski trip. In the time since, I attended a great webinar despite having a mini-panic attack when it was suggested there would be audience participation, I finally got desperately-needed braces, and the biggest of all, I decided to express my opinion on something and submitted it to one of my favorite web sites for publishing. It got published, and I was blown away by the positive response to it – in 24 hours, it was read by over 40,000 people on Jezebel, and my own web site saw visitors from 35 countries and 47 states (evidently Idaho isn’t big on Whitney Houston). Most of the comments were positive, and almost all of the comments against it were more constructive and thoughtful than truly negative. As a result of this particular confrontation with fear, I’ve met one of my other goals for the year and hit a lifetime bucket list goal – I definitely averaged over 100 visitors a day for a week on my site, and I got something published that had mass-reach.
I definitely need to thank all of you for helping me reach these goals – not only from the support and encouragement I received when I first brought this web site online, but by the recent number of tweets, emails, and facebook shares. As I write this, I realize how much I have to learn as a writer, because I cannot find the right words to express my gratitude or how much I’ve appreciated the comments and kind words. I really want to do good by you, the reader, and I’m going to bring my best to you every damn week.
As I suggested in my previous bucket list post, with each accomplishment or failure on my list, I have something to take away from the experience. My takeaway feels a bit unexpected – I learned this week if I really want to succeed as a writer, I need to write fearlessly. I can live with chickening out on skiing (for now – I AM going to learn to ski or snowboard), but I will not accept chickening out on my writing. The truth is, no matter how much I people-please in my life, I will never be good at this if I people-please as a writer.
I’ll continue telling stories and being an overall goof, but there’s even more I can do here. I’m not going to ever force it or become something akin to an internet ambulance-chaser to gain views, but if I’ve got something of value to say, I’m not going to be afraid to say it.
And I’ve got ideas. Stay tuned…