Afraid of the Fall

Afraid of the Fall

This past week my nearest and dearest and I went paddle boarding with one of our closest friends in the Outerbanks. I have this weird love/hate relationship with trying new things (especially athletic new things).
So here we are on a beautiful day and I have my wet suit on (putting on the wet suit was enough of a challenge).  And we head out.  I was doing great–on my knees.  And eventually I made it to standing—awesome!  No one had fallen in and all was well.  But to be honest, I was scared.  I was enjoying myself but secretly I was thinking, “ok, when are we going to go back in.” My feet hurt and I was nervous about getting back down on to my knees.
Let me set the scene here:  Beautiful, warmish sunny day.  The sound was glorious and flat and I was hanging with 2 of my favorite people.  Yet, I couldn’t wait for it to be over. I was frightened by every little wave, every wrong paddle.  The longer we went the more afraid I became.
Finally, after my feet couldn’t handle it anymore I decided to try to get back on my knees again–with a lot of tentative attempts–ta da!  I fell in!  Yup, completely in to the freezing cold, take your breath away filled with muck water.  And as I climbed back on the board it was as if everything shifted.  Suddenly the fear was gone.  I practiced getting up and down a few times, knees, standing, knees, standing and then off we went.  I had the best time–laughing, enjoying myself and having fun.  The worst was over–I had made a mistake, I had fallen and I had survived!!
Afterwards my friend said to me “it’s too bad you didn’t fall in right away so you could have just gotten it over with and had more time to have fun”.
So true.  But in reality, had I just jumped in or forced myself to fall in it wouldn’t have felt the same.  The reason it was so powerful, so mood altering was that I was TRYING and THEN I fell. I didn’t just fall in–I was trying something new, I made a mistake,  I fell in, I survived. Rather than getting wet earlier, I wish I had tried to get down on my knees earlier. I wish I had taken more risks earlier, tested my balance, pushed my limits.
How many times in life are we being so vigilant, so on guard and perfectionistic that we miss the experience–we miss our own freakin’ lives because we are so freakin’ afraid!!  Afraid it won’t last, afraid we will make a mistake, afraid we will be laughed out, afraid, afraid, afraid.
As you look at your own life where are you keeping vigilance, keeping up the facade of perfection, avoiding just TRYING because you might fallen in? Avoiding taking the new job (or even looking for one). Avoiding the tough conversation. Avoiding doing something new or different?
Let’s get honest.  How much of life are you missing because you are just afraid of falling?
I am here to tell you—most of the fun comes in the falling.
Here is a pic of me and my nearest and dearest paddle boarding:


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  • Comment by Catherine Lawson at October 30, 2012 @ 8:10 pm

    Thank you, working on my hyper vigilance in case in case!! we do miss quality of life when we are scared and sometimes we don’t even know what we are scared of… hmm just in case something might happen… well it might be a nice happening too…. I liked your story. Catherine

    • Comment by Nancy Jane at October 30, 2012 @ 8:30 pm

      Thanks Catherine! Vigilance is definitely something I deal with (obviously from my story–ha!) But I have come a LONG way and I know that being aware of my vigilance and my tendency to miss out on life because of it has helped me slowly, diligently overcome it. Thanks for the thoughtful comment.