I’m afraid of hurting myself.
I come by it honestly. I have been in terrible car and scooter accidents. I have broken my nose playing roller derby. I have torn muscles and I have sprained them. I have had road rash on my face.
I once spent three weeks in this pink bunny suit recovering from a particularly bad accident. You can read all the gory details here if you feel like it. The short version is that you learn a lot about how you’re living from maybe almost dying.
Let’s have a little reality check here, though. We ALL hurt ourselves, all the time. We bend, break, and overstretch. It can be painful. We all know this. We all get through every day knowing that bad shit happens.
But for some of us, our constant awareness that something bad could happen to us at any time can be paralyzing. We live in constant fear of reckless drivers, balls we can’t catch, and injuries that we can’t heal from. We spend warm beautiful days indoors avoiding injury.
I wasn’t always like this. Ten years ago, I was the kind of person who was regularly described as “reckless” by people who thought I was dangerous and “adventurous” by people who thought I was fun.
I don’t even know what changed. Somehow, I went from being your mother’s worst nightmare to being the chick you call to take care of your mom when she has a cold and needs some eucalyptus oil. On the one hand, awesome, I want people to trust me. On the other hand, I don’t want to be so careful with my fragile flower of a body that I never let it bloom.
So I made a resolution for October to do one thing every day with my body that scares me.
So what have I done so far?
I have roller skated. Outside. I have played frisbee with my wife. I have practiced all the poses that I hate, namely crow and handstand. Yesterday, I had my first swimming lesson.
What do all of these things have in common? Can you guess?
ALL OF THESE THINGS ARE FUN.
My fear of hurting myself has not just ensured my safety. It has ensured that I don’t have as much fun.
Well, not anymore, y’all. I’m done not having fun.
But here’s the thing. I’m still scared of hurting myself. I was scared last week when I face planted on roller skates in the middle of an intersection. I was scared on Sunday when that neon flying disc came careening towards my face. I was scared on Friday flailing into handstand. I was really scared yesterday with my face submerged and all my orifices full of water kicking blindly across the pool.
So if these things are scary and also fun, what does that mean?
It means that being scared is fun. Your body basically doesn’t know the difference between “excited” and “nervous.” All the physiological symptoms are the same. If your mindset changes, your experience changes. If you shift from “I’m not doing this because I might get hurt,” to “I might get hurt and I’m doing this anyways,” nervousness becomes excitement becomes endorphins becomes AWESOME, I’M A FUCKING UNICORN!
So get out there and do shit that scares you, y’all. You might get hurt. And it might be worth it.
If you want to read about my month of facing my fears, start here.