I got the email on Monday. And I’m now part of the Start Experiment. To be perfectly honest, I’m not sure exactly what that means. Some people in the motley crew I’m joining are risk-takers, and others are stand-on-the-shore types who are, for the first time, wanting to dive in to the deep to see how their lives might change. I’m a little excited. And a little terrified. Because I’m already facing my biggest fear.
And it’s not about the starting.
I remember standing on the edge of the pool at the Hacienda Hotel in Irving, Texas, when I was eight. It was another “business trip for my dad/hotel stay for my mom and me” trip (he called them “vacations” to take the edge off). My mom didn’t swim, and I didn’t either. But the water beckoned, and I was tired of splashing in the shallow end. So I did what any buck-toothed skinny blonde kid would do.
I stepped on the diving board. And I jumped.
The water was wonderful and cool. And deep. Very deep. I thrashed and splashed and somehow made it to the edge, asking myself why I jumped in the first place. Because I couldn’t swim well, I felt like a failure. I sat on the side of the pool, my tired legs dangling in the cool water. And cried like a baby.
No, it’s not about the starting. It’s about the urge to quit.
I’m not afraid to begin things. My fear is in the wanting to just give up. It’s in the stories sitting on my desktop, partially written. I’ve started each one – and then questioned the value of each. It’s in the starting a new business venture with friends – and then deciding I have nothing to really contribute of worth. It’s in the reaching out to care for someone – and then doubting my ability or my motives or my heart. It’s even in starting this blog – something that allows me to dive into calling and passion. There are so many days when I simply want to flip the switch. And go dark. Because I think, “it really doesn’t matter.”
It’s not about the starting. It’s about the enduring, the keeping on, the punching fear in the face when it says “worthless.” It’s about the rising again after a stumble. It’s about the long hot walk when refreshment is nowhere in sight.
On that summer day at the Hacienda Hotel, I cried like a baby because I couldn’t swim well. And then I got up, walked over to the diving board and jumped in again. And again. And again. I still don’t swim well. But I love to swim.
Maybe that buck-toothed skinny blonde kid needs to return.
So, how do you deal with fear? And what keeps you going once you’ve started something?