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Swimming with sharks

‘Feel the fear and do it anyway’, is a sagacious quote I come across often (particularly when I’m doing my late night ransack of Etsy). Sure, it sounds like something you’d find pinned onto a 13 year old’s Pinterest board, or something that would be scrawled across a B&M Canvas in pink glitter writing, but that phrase has grown on me. Under its tacky ‘print me on a mug and give me to mum’ exterior; there's something to stir the soul.

I struggle with anxiety because of my bipolar disorder, I take medication to help control the level of stress I put myself under over small things – but I would not say that my anxiety is debilitating. Putting aside my medical diagnosis, I’ve always been an anxious individual in terms of my character anyway. Mentally, I have a hard time processing hurt or processing the idea of becoming hurt – so I build up situations phenomenally. As much as I am confident in my ability to be assertive, my inner demon is my nervousness and ability to overthink the most trivial things.

My dull everyday feelings of uneasiness have never went away, but I’ve managed to possess some aspects of control over my nervous thinking. Alas, I still remain the Scooby Doo of individuals – shit scared of almost everything. My most true-to-form examples of my shit-baggery are me staying out of long grass incase a snake catches me and has me for brunch, and refusing to try water sports in a loch in case there’s great white sharks. For the record, I live in Scotland where neither great whites or anacondas are present (or that’s at least what they want us to believe, I’m taking no chances).

Rather than dismiss my fears as irrational – I play devil’s advocate with my psyche by saying my fears manifest from the rational, but become Hollywood Blockbuster very quickly. I’m weirdly into the idea of the laws of attraction, so the fact that catastrophe is constantly in my mind tells me that I need to avoid things, or else I will end up thinking them into existence.

When it comes to fight or flight, I go with the latter because I’m scared of being hurt physically and emotionally. I am Sensitive Sally. I not only avoid situations where I believe I’m going to e.g. be involved in a plane crash in the ocean then have my carcass eaten by Mr Jaws himself, I avoid certain interactions with people because I’m scared of what they’ll think of me, or how they may react. Until recently, that is.

I was talking to a friend about reaching out to old acquaintances but I told myself I couldn’t do that because there ‘must be a reason why people haven’t reached out to me’. Then my pal said the most simple phrase – that almost everyone has heard from their granny at one point - ‘What’s the worst that could happen?’. It’s a cliche, but god - what a mantra! Tattoo that shit on my face! Never have I truly considered the weight of that question – until I stopped applying it rhetorically and for once in my bloody life asked myself – what actually is the worst that could happen?

Applying this to my socially-nervous situation at that time, what was the worst that could happen when reaching out to old friends? Well, I could be ignored or someone could be rude to me. Hey, that’s not actually that bad! If you would like to hear the conclusions of that story: I reached out to two people that I used to know. Both of them were kind, the conversation with one eventually fizzled out and I invited the other for a catch-up and was ignored. I guess, the worst case scenario happened – and oddly enough, I found myself cool with it. In fact, I felt stronger because I felt the fear and did it anyway. (I know you eye-rolled at that sentence, but you know I’m speaking sense - but let me continue to the mandatory corny conclusion of this).

Both my obstacle in my personal development, and my motivation for personal development, is fear. I’ve learned that fear is a necessary component to getting to where you wanna be and becoming the person that you want to be. So just go for it. I’m going to! I’m gonna try things I’ve been desperate to try, create stuff I want to create and just swim with the sharks… metaphorically that is, I mean have you seen Jaws?