Facing fears ~ vulnerability and views from a bridge
I faced a huge fear today. Well, two actually. I walked across the Forth Road Bridge.* Up very high. Over open water. This took me very, very far out of my comfort zone and put me very, very much into my anxiety one, as I knew it would. So why did I do it?
There were two practical things that led to this decision: the need to find some interesting things to do with my family this holiday that wouldn't cost a fortune, and a recent conversation with a friend about how we take the places on our doorstep for granted and never take time to experience them because we know we can do that ‘any time’. Which actually often means we never experience them.
Walking across the Forth Road Bridge is something I've wanted to do for a long time, despite my anxieties about heights and water. It’s an iconic and majestic structure and I knew that the views must be stunning (I was right - they are). I'd also love to view the world from a hot air balloon one day. Up high...floating around in a wee basket in the air! I can't explain why but it's something I really would love to try even though part of me would probably be terrified.
I do realise that sometimes I do that, though. I push my boundaries a bit to remind myself that I'm capable of things I don't think I can do. I feel the fear and do it anyway. Over the years that's manifested in different ways:
~ standing up to bullies at school and in a workplace
~ applying for my counselling diploma
~ doing a firewalk for charity (fire...there's another element I'm not especially fond of!)
~ speaking in public by volunteering at university to talk to students about counselling courses, and now by running workshops and facilitating groups
~ standing for an elected post in PCT Scotland, an association where I'm now Secretary (www.pctscotland.co.uk)
~ recording videos for my social media feeds and YouTube channel
Most of these are fairly quiet, under-the-radar things. Nothing that will change the rest of the world forever. But they've all been giant leaps for me in their own ways. Every one an acknowledgement that I'm 'good enough' after all.
In her book Daring Greatly, Brene Brown says “Vulnerability is our most accurate measure of courage” and I absolutely threw myself into vulnerability today. So tonight - after my scary and exhilarating walk in the sky - I’m feeling quietly courageous.
I guess what I’m learning is that courage isn't always dramatic and heroic. It can be small acts, done quietly and without fanfare. I know I’m creating a bit of a fanfare about this by writing about it, but I’m going to allow myself that luxury of patting myself on the back for facing those fears. In truth, it’s probably something I don’t do enough of!
*The Forth Road Bridge is 156m tall and you cross it 44m above the River Forth. It links South Queensferry in West Lothian to North Queensferry in Fife.