Don’t Be Afraid

Am I still in the fear zone?

When the news about the pandemic first hit home and we were sent to work remotely, that was when my attitude changed and, irrationally, it felt like my entire world was crashing down.

Arlo caught chickenpox that week so our household was on self-isolation mode a week earlier than my friends, colleagues and the nation. So although we were all working from home, most of the people we knew still had the freedom (and their heads in the sand.)

So, I really think it hit us first. Out of our circle of work, friends and family, it was apparent that we were in a slightly different situation, and we were facing up to this before them. My son was sick, we had two full-time jobs to continue with and we were trapped in a house together 24/7.

Our entire world is changing and there is absolutely nothing I can do about it.

I’ll never forget the pain I felt that week, the sheer amount of incomprehensible emotion. I can’t get what I want, I can’t be with the people I want to be with and the most frightening fact of all, I can’t protect Arlo.

This is the way I cope in a crisis scenario. I digest the panic, sadness and confusion then learn to cope and continue. I suffer, then accept.

I learnt this the following week when the people around us began to realise the severity of the situation themselves. I could see the people I once knew so well, adapt and start coping in their own way.

The introverts turn into hermit crabs, the heroes rise by helping others, the truly secure and strong offer support, and the dickheads, well, their true colours begin to shine quite vividly.

People are starting to refer to the world and timelines as ‘before’ and ‘after’. It’s history in the making, or it’s our new way of life until we can discover and distribute a vaccine.

Before, I tried really hard to be selfless, generous and to please other people. I sacrificed my own happiness and contributed to my insecurities by listening to liars. I was gullible, sensitive and paranoid in the end, and I felt like I was running on a hamster wheel, circulating the same problems.

What I do have is my career, studies, goals, my own small business, blogs and diaries, playlists and albums of music, a couple of loyal and honest friends, a house, lots of pets and my amazing child.

A good start and a lot to appreciate, but it’s not where I want to be or what I want to achieve, there’s so much more to go. I’m stuck in a toxic environment with someone that drives me stir-crazy, a slow career that hasn’t hit its peak. A bucket list as long as my arm…

Everyone has a comfort zone in their life. They just want to cruise on a path of least resistance and just get by. It’s relatable, understandable and I mean, we’ve all had to work so hard to get there, no matter how we all cope, in different ways and at different paces. Most people think it’s a great place to remain because it is comfortable.

In the comfort zone, you feel safe and low risk, but you get low rewards to match. To push yourself beyond this, you move into the fear zone, the learning zone, then the growth zone. You go from low self-confidence to facing challenges, to finally finding purpose and conquering objectives.

I moved into the fear zone. I put myself in the front line, only to be shot down. I was affected by other’s opinions, I had low self-esteem and a lack of confidence, my anxiety was through the roof, I had blips of chronic depression, I was jealous and I’d use any excuse to cover up my attitude.

So, how did I move beyond this point, how did I save myself from the daggers in my back and begin to learn and grow instead?

Once you stop reaching for your goals, seeking what makes you happy and stepping forward for it, you settle for who you are. You need to apply effort, be susceptible to failure and take on risks to continue growing.

Focusing on temporary pain instead of the satisfaction from achievements will only shrink you and your attitude.

I also used the time to cleanse of the people and situations putting me down. To determine honest friends, the ones worth holding onto. The ones that don’t turn their backs, the ones that are there for the smallest jokes or the deepest conversations. They might not speak to me every day, they might be across the world, but sometimes it takes a global crisis to see who they really are. Dump the others, they’re a waste of time.

Making a start and putting out your ideas is something you have to consciously push. It’ll mean you’re vulnerable to criticism or further pressure, whether that’s at work or from your family. You have to put your own foot forward, someone isn’t going to do it for you. There might be people holding you back, there might be worry clouds floating above your head, but it’s up to you to take that step. You have to dig deep and find courage, you need to be brave.

What have you learnt that you’ll never let go of, on the other side?