• vanessa

pushing through fear

Updated: Feb 10, 2019

what i learned from a trip of firsts

Last month, I traveled to Key West, Florida. It is my happy place. Key West is the place I feel at ease the moment I step off the plane. But this trip was different. I was anxious, nervous. This was the first time I'd be flying and traveling sober.

This trip presented two kinds of fear: the foreseen and the unforeseen. The latter presents a moment with little (to no) warning and therefore almost no time to gather yourself.

Let's start with the foreseen fear. In the case of traveling sober for the first time - and flying for the first time (in a long time) without my usual aid -

I needed a plan of attack.

// managing foreseen fear

Lesson number one; prepare

This will be different for everyone, but find what fills you with joy, calms you, or makes you laugh. I went with a combination of all three for my flight: picked up my favorite snacks; wore the most comfortable clothes I had; packed an assortment of essential oils; and downloaded a few episodes of my favorite podcast and a streaming service comedy special for good measure.

Preparations are great, but what happens when the unforeseen arises? In the case of my flight down to Key West we hit the most brutal turbulence landing into Newark. I caught myself holding my breath and had to remind myself: breathe.

// managing unforeseen fear

Lesson number two; breathe

We don't always have the luxury of preparation. In such cases, breathing is a great place to start. It seems cliche, but taking even a minute or more to adjust to an unexpected moment of fear can provide you with the important grounding to move through (not rush through) the experience with intention, poise, and power.

Lesson number three; trust

Always trust yourself. There are times when we can't prepare or even take a moment to breathe, but rather we're in a position where we need to act. These are the moments when you have to trust yourself. It may not be easy, it may be terrifying, but you have within you the capacity to face fear and move through it.

I had the opportunity to take my first deep dive in Key West on the Cayman Salvage Master. I prepared as much as a could for this unexpected (and exciting) decision and gathered myself with a few breathes before stepping into the water. What I wasn't anticipating was losing my regulator upon reaching the wreck. If not your familiar with diving, the regulator delivers your oxygen. Yep.

Needless to say, I survived. I was able to do so with composure by reminding myself that I knew what to do. I prepared for such situations: I trusted myself.


It's also important to acknowledge that fear is complex, both foreseen and unforeseen. These experiences of sobriety and diving are my experiences. In some ways they may appear quaint and privileged; I acknowledge that. My experiences with fear have also included less quaint experiences including facing an abuser. These same tools have enabled me to stand in my power.

in gratitude, //vanessa




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