(originally published May 10, 2010)
Recently, on a Friday afternoon, I had an experience which challenged my fears and comfort level. I went out sailing in 20-30 knots of wind, with 6 – 8 foot swells, in a very, very narrow boat only 41 feet long. I had five experienced crew with me. And I was nervous.
Believe you me, it is an intimidating experience when a little sailboat is planing at over 20 knots with gusts and crazy waves. You don’t have a lot of opportunity to think things through or to hesitate – a five degree wrong move and….WIPEOUT! In the cold water and sloppy big waves, that could mean “man overboard” with the boat temporarily out of control. (Watch the experience
I am learning to skipper a boat under these conditions, where you have to run on “feel” and not so much on thinking things through. I have lots to learn and practice, but whoo hoo! What a ride!
In doing this, I faced rational fear and was out of my comfort zone. It took 48 hours for me to come down from that exhilaration. It changes you. I feel proud of myself; I know I’m getting better and better. Facing fears and limitations, while scary, leads to such acceleration in joy of life and a growing self-confidence, that it is more than worth the scary moments.
As I keep nagging at you folks, things are scary until they become familiar
. Practice and forcing yourself to face the experience time and again gives you familiarity
which gives you confidence, and a natural, free, and legal “high.”