It’s amazing how much we can grow from fear.
I am on a plane 35,000 feet in the air as I write this, terrified. With every bump, my hands grip the armrests like a vice. My knuckles would be white with strain if it wasn’t for the way my melanin is set up. I’ve already read the safety manual twice, and I’m afraid to consume anything but water and Ginger Ale.
I’ve never liked to fly. Airplanes make me uncomfortable. A tin can should not bob and weave through cotton ball skies, occasionally dropping just enough to make your stomach fall. It should be recycled.
When gas prices began to rise when I was a child, my family stopped driving our gas-guzzler on road-trips, opting to fly instead. If my mother didn’t have such a stern gaze, and my dad a no-nonsense attitude, they would have had to physically drag me to each terminal and onto every flight. Though my younger sister would laugh softly at the senselessness of my fear, she’d take my hand through the worst of it. My mom would look back, checking to make sure I was OK.
In 2015, I flew for the first time on my own. No support system. No stern gazes or held hands. Just me and a carry-on, flying to New York to pursue the things I love most, one of which being my career.
Since then, for various reasons, I’ve packed my bags, booked a window seat and silently panicked on my three hour flight at least twice a year, solo. I met some of the most amazing people and picked their brains over drinks, music festivals and impromptu games of Mario Kart.
However, it was on a flight, heading back home after leaving New York the last time as a visitor, that I realize how important facing my biggest fears has been in chasing my dreams.
I’m putting a journalism career on the back burner, to make the biggest move of my life and eventually rekindle that very same career in a much larger market. Until then, I will following a secondary passion: styling women and making them feel like their best selves in their bodies. Truly, it’s not a bad consolation prize.
But I’d be remiss if I said I wasn’t scared. Chasing your dreams is much less than a planned leap.
It’s a slew of unknown doors opening up in front of you, daring you not to open them. It’s the people you love most saying “congratulations” to your face, but questioning if you're making a huge mistake, behind your back. It’s a series of bumpy planes rides that resulted in new-found courage to open the doors, and strength to say “thank you, and I’ll prove you wrong.”
I won’t lie. A little hesitance to the unknown is not only normal, but I’d say important. Fear forces you to think and make informed decisions. There is a point where, however, you have to ask how long you will allow yourself to put your life on hold before taking an informed chance?
Fear and discernment give you the parachute. You have to do the rest and jump.
I saw A Wrinkle in Time this weekend, and in a scene of the movie, Reese Witherspoon’s character says she is gifting the protagonist her flaws, which later prove to be quite important. Here, I’d challenge each and every one of you to gift yourself your fears.
The next plane ride I take will be to start a new, terrifying adventure and I’m thrilled to say that I will be bringing my fear with me as not a weakness, but a friend to push me forward to the next challenge.