Facing your fears is never easy. It doesn’t get easier with age.
My wife and I were talking about facing our fears recently with our daughter Sadie. She runs on the track team but it makes her nervous, as any track athlete well knows. We complimented her for running, which is a painful event at the speeds track runs.
Quick backstory: Sadie finished second in the state of Utah while running the mile in grade school. Nevertheless, she was so scared she’d finish last in her first high school meet, that she didn’t even register for the mile. She chose sprints instead and got blown away. That’s what happens when distance runners run sprints.
Anyways, her mother and I encouraged her to run the mile, 400, and 800 next time. She accepted the challenge (we didn’t force her), and she registered for all three events at her next meet. She was visibly nervous for the full week leading up to the big day.
When the starting gun finally fired, she eased into the back of the pack. Over the first couple of laps, she moved up the line slowly. Then. She. Turned. It. On… in the final two laps. All told she passed eight competitors in the final half mile and finished in close second. Had she run as fast as she normally does in the early laps, Sadie probably could have passed the winner, based on how close the finish was.
Upon seeing this race, my wife started crying. “I was so proud of Sadie,” she told me afterwards. I was too. Not only because Sadie ran head on into her fears. But because it’s amazing what happens sometimes when we stare down our fears. It’s even more gratifying to see your children do it, especially since they lack the confidence and experience many adults enjoy.
Not only does facing our fears build mental resilience, lets us try new things, and increases our happiness, it often leads to wonderful results like finishing second on your first attempt. Results like that will never happen if we never try.
Yes, facing our fears will often lead to poor performances, too—sometimes even last place. But that should never prevent us from discovering what we’re capable of.
I’m grateful for my daughter’s example of facing our fears and know the experience is worth it, whatever the result. When we face our fears and try new things, we can experience more of what life has to offer.