Taking a three month sabbatical requires overcoming a certain number of fears. There was the fear of flying, the fear of getting sick, the fear of running out of money, the fear of dying. I could go on and on here but the point is that we all have certain fears that we struggle to overcome.
If there was a class on overcoming fear I would have failed it multiple times. I have a strong history of giving in to fear and letting it get the best of me. I’ve turned down opportunities because I was too afraid to take them on or I spent too much time analyzing them until disappeared.
I’m the last person to be giving advice on overcoming fear so I won’t. What I will do however, is tell you about my own personal experience and maybe in some small way it will be an encouragement.
We had this sabbatical idea over a year ago. We made some feeble plans that failed. It was a big disappointment and we almost gave up on the dream. But we pushed through and now we are in Indonesia on a 3 month sabbatical having the time of our lives.
Where would we be today had we given in to the fears that we were wrestling with? I doubt we would be having the incredible experiences we’ve been having. Instead we’d be stuck in the same ruts bitter about not having the courage to take this sabbatical.
I’ll be honest with you, I almost didn’t go. The days preceding our departure I was scared. I was dealing with a lot of emotions, was really stressed and fearful about a number of different things like money, health and travel insurance and the general unknown that goes along with traveling to a foreign land.
On the long drive to Seattle I had a whirlwind of thoughts racing around my mind. But after we had reached the airport and were sitting there waiting to board all those fears started to slowly subside. Fear backed down. And as we cruised at 38K feet above the pacific fear retreated and I felt better than I had in a long time.
I’ve noticed that when I fret over my fears I feel horrible. When I face my fears there is a brief moment of intense panic but once that subsides I feel great.
Yesterday we spent the day at Trans Studio in Bandung, and indoor theme park with rides and activities that the whole family can enjoy. It was an incredibly fun time but two things stand out in my mind.
First, there was this water ride where you sit in a boat and gently float through a maze of water ways. Suddenly your boat goes up a long ramp climbing higher and higher. At the top you make a slight turn and then plummet down a long chute into a pool of water. It’s a real rush.
The problem was that my wife and I wanted to go on this ride but our kids didn’t. They were too scared. As hard as we tried to talk them into it or bribe them they stood firm and wouldn’t budge. Finally after about an hour of negotiations I managed to convince my youngest son that he would be the envy of all the kids in his class if he did this.
As we walked through the maze of chains that snaked toward the start of the ride I could see that my son was apprehensive. But he got into the boat and we slowly set sail. He seemed OK as we meandered through the quiet part of the ride but his nervousness increased as we hit the ramp that brought us closer to the pinnacle of the ride; the plummet into that giant pool of water.
As we reached the top and the nose of our point began to tip and then point straight down we both screamed as we fell and splashed into the water. Then we both looked at each other and smiled. Fear had backed down.
Later in the day I noticed a roller coaster. It looked like fun but part of my brain was telling me I was too old to do something so foolish. Quite frankly I was a bit scared to get on that thing. This roller coaster shot you out and then ran you upside down through a loop, around a tight corner and then straight up where you stopped and hung there for a second and then did the whole run in reverse.
I wasn’t going to do it and then suddenly I started thinking about every time I let fear conquer me. I was tired of that feeling. I stepped up and walked through the line to the front of the ride. I was about 8th in line when they asked if there were any solo riders. I raised my hand and stepped forward and just like that I was sitting on the coaster.
My heart was racing as the attendants made sure we were all secure in our seats. I thought for sure I was going to have a heart attack. They guy next to me smiled as if he knew what I was feeling. “Relax and enjoy!” he said. A video came on and a guy started a countdown. We hit the count of 1 and shot out of the terminal with incredible G-forces.
We hit the loop and were flying upside down. I could see the town below and it seemed we were up so high. The sharp corner came and we shrank back into our seats as the force of gravity increased. Then we shot straight up and stopped. Slowly we fell backward and did the whole course again in reverse.
As we coasted back into the terminal I felt freakin’ awesome! Fear had backed down. I had survived.
I went on to ride the coaster two more times. The second time I sat in the very front seat. No one wanted to join me there until a cool young guy jumped in. We were all amped up for the coaster to start. We shot out again and I felt that rush. It was addicting. As we coasted back we all started yelling “Sekali lagi!! Sekali lagi!!” So they shot us out again. Fear had backed down.
I was on a high the rest of the night. It was incredible. As I reflect back on taking this sabbatical, when I think about my son on that water ride and when I remember that incredible feeling on that roller coaster I can’t help but think that moving forward in my life I need to push myself past all those fears and really live life to the fullest. When opportunity knocks I won’t let fear keep me away.
The times when I have confronted fear, fear has backed down. When fear backs down I feel great. I like feeling great.