Recently my husband and took a weekend to go to the Jersey Shore. We packed in all kinds of adventures and I’m sure you’ll see some of the over 500 photos that I took pop up here and there in my blog. (Or if you’re interested in scrolling through them, they’re on my flickr photostream here.)
On the way home we took the long way along the Jersey Shore through cute towns and stopping here and there. One place we stopped was at Lucy the Elephant.
Lucy is a gigantic elephant that has been moved and used for many different things and now for a fee you can go inside. When we arrived and bought our tickets a tour had just left, so we hurried to catch up.
When we went inside I was faced this these:
Now, to you these are just stairs, maybe even a fun set of spiral stairs leading to something awesome. But small spiral staircases where I can’t see the top are a huge fear for me. I don’t do them.
When I think about why I am so scared of them I think it’s mostly because I’m claustrophobic. I don’t like going in small spaces. On top of that, I hate going in spaces where I cannot see a clear exit. If I can’t easily exit a place then I don’t want to go in.
In this case because we were trying to catch up with a group I didn’t have time to think about it. And really my husband and I were the only ones on the stairs so I knew I could easily turn around and get out if necessary. If I had been in the middle of a group of people I knew I couldn’t get out easily and would have been more freaked out.
I have been on small spiral staircases before, of course. Usually it’s in places where it’s just my husband and I and he’ll go up first so he can tell me how far it is and ease my fears. (He’s super supportive.) But if there’s a crowd I would say I almost never will. I have missed out on a lot of lighthouses because of this.
Many people pick a word of the year and I usually do, too. Tara Swiger calls this your “North Star” and I love that analogy. Usually I end up with a few north stars and usually they’re the same each year. I kind of think of them as the guiding themes of my life. They’re things like “creativity,” “expression,” “exploration,” and “adventure” is always important, too.
These are words I think about as I go through my days and choose what to do with my life. I try to really think about how to bring these qualities more into my life.
This year when I thought about what I really, really want to bring to my life more, adventure came up again and again. I don’t often talk about my personal life, but my husband and I do road trips quite a bit. We love exploring abandoned and/or historical places, odd and quirky places, and nature (especially waterfalls which I talk about a lot). So to most people it would seem that I have a lot of adventure in my life.
However for me it wasn’t pushing myself enough. I love our trips and we have a lot of fun, but I want to be even more adventurous. I want to try things I’ve been afraid of trying. I don’t want to be dangerous and risky and I’ll probably still analyze and think about things before I do anything too adventurous, but I want to step outside my comfort zone a little more.
For example, I walk almost daily and I’ve been pushing myself to walk a little bit further each day. That doesn’t mean that I’m ready to do a 10 mile hike that’s rated difficult yet, even though it’s a goal of mine. I’m slowly taking steps in that direction.
Back to Lucy…..
After you’re inside there’s another set of circular stairs to go up on the top. This time we were with the group.
If you went up to the top, you got a little card. I wanted that card. I wanted to be not afraid. I wanted to see the view. So I quickly told myself that I safely made it up the first stairs and I didn’t need a quick escape and nothing bad happened and I will safely make it up again. And I did it!
I know this hardly would constitute being adventurous in most people’s books, but for me it was. I didn’t ask my husband to go ahead and check the stairs first (and he offered), I didn’t wait to be the last person so I knew I could turn around if I needed to escape. I simply went up the stairs.
Taking those little steps was a big step for me. The more I try things the more adventurous I feel. I went up two sets of stairs that for years I would have never even considered going up. Now I want to try more things I never tried before because of fear.
Fear can really hold you back and keep you from living a full life. Sometimes we’re fearful of what people will think of our artwork, so we never even try to make any. Fear of rejection and ridicule is huge. I’m fearful of even writing this post because someone might think that saying going up a set of stairs isn’t adventurous or scary at all. But it doesn’t matter what your fear is, it is real for you.
I think it’s all the tiny little steps in the direction of fearlessness that get us to our goal. For example, if you want to make artwork but are afraid of what others may think of it, what if you start with an art journal that you keep to yourself? Then you’re working toward the bigger goal, but with less of the risk.
What tiny step can you take toward adventure or fearlessness today?
(Comment below with what step you can take. Comments are moderated so you won’t see it here immediately, but I’ll approve it shortly!)