My life on social media is presented to others in its best possible light — you see the highlight reel.
I’m so grateful for the opportunity to keep in touch and I’m not discounting that there are spectacular highlights, but the moments that people see on social media are full of happy photos, travel, perfect hair and makeup, and overall peak experiences.
But how do I come to those points? One of my deepest passions is creating a life I love, and this necessarily means I’m constantly creating something new. The truth is I am often afraid in my everyday life. It might be doubts about the way I’m raising my daughter, it’s often having a very honest conversation with a person who may not like hearing what I have to say, or it might be the great uncertainty of spending a lot of money on an investment in my business that I have no idea how it will turn out. I go through moments of doubt, uncertainty, and yes, sometimes even deep fear that keeps me up at night. Like you, I’m afraid sometimes.
What I’ve come to find is that in those moments of fear, I get to decide how I’m going to show up. I get to decide how I’m going to deal with it. And the one thing I’ve consistently done over the past four years is to walk through the fire of my fear. To have the difficult conversation, to make the investment I know is right even if I don’t have evidence, or just simply doing the thing that scares me because something inside tells me this is the right thing to do.
Fear and The Big Jump
Several months ago, while planning a trip to Africa with friends, I was given the option to sign up for a famous 400-foot jump off of a bridge over the Zambezi River in Zambia. I was terrified even thinking about it, yet drawn to this experience at the same time. Looking back at the moment I signed up to do it, I remember I was almost sick even thinking about it, but I was also immediately attracted by the opportunity.
I knew that if a thing like this both fascinates and scares me, it’s probably a great indicator that this experience holds great promise of reward. But doing the jump required me to experience the fear of real risk and to NOT play it safe. I mentally knew that after breaking through that fear and risking “that scary thing” there exists a level of confidence and freedom that is intoxicating, but the fear was very, very real.
Walking Through Fire
I could hardly sleep the night before my big jump. Thoughts filled me with anxiety. Could I do this? Is it safe? 400 feet is REALLY high! What if I get hurt? What if I’m standing next to all those people I know and I can’t do it? What if I look foolish? What if I fail? I actually got up early just because I wanted to do a pep talk with myself rather than letting those thoughts swirl through my head.
When I arrived at the bridge, everything inside of me was screaming that I should turn around and head back to the car. My thoughts were racing about the danger, the fact that the bridge was much higher than I ever could have dreamed and that this was completely insane! I had mentally prepared, but this was completely insane.
I got strapped into belts and I volunteered to go first — I had to walk through the fire of my fear as quickly as possible or I knew I may lose my nerve. My friends were supportive and cheering me on while I was being connected to a rope at the chest and the stomach for a swing (after the jump, you swing back and forth over the river), and it was so heavy. Imagine standing on the edge of a platform 35 stories high with ropes attached to you and the sensation that they are literally going to pull you off. I inched onto the platform, experiencing involuntary tremors.
The fear I felt at that moment seemed bigger than anything I had ever faced. My guide led me to the jumping position. I looked at him and said, “I don’t think I can do this.” He looked me in the eye and said, “Yeah you can, Jess. Move your feet to the edge here. Three. Two. One!”
And with a yell, I jumped.
Practice Courage In the Face of Fear
During the four-second free fall, I quite literally thought I had lost my mind. But the moment the rope caught, and I swung out over the beautiful river, I threw my arms into the air and felt a rush of sheer exhilaration and joy. I was on top of the world, unstoppable. I was filled with an unshakeable confidence. I realized at that moment that I am not going to choose a life where I play it safe when I know there’s something bigger for me — even if that means I have to step out and risk looking like a fool. I had expanded who I was and what I was capable of doing. As the rope swung me back, I said out loud to myself, “Jessica, you can do anything you want in this life. If you can do this, you can do anything.”
And I truly believe this for you, too. It doesn’t have to be a 400 foot drop to feel the same kind of fear. Significant challenges can be any combination of mental, physical, or emotional. The risks can be anything too—complete failure, looking foolish, going into debt, being hurt emotionally. In those moments there rises an urgent decision: should you step out and risk failing in a real way or should you play it safe?
If there’s one thing I’ve learned over time, it’s that facing our fears is a muscle, and like a muscle, it gets stronger the more you exercise it. As it gets stronger, the kinds of fears you tackle will bring greater rewards, too. So the highlight reel of my life quite literally exists because I’ve been flexing this muscle for several years. At first, it was just facing my fears as they came up, and now I’m looking for the places in my life where I have fears because I know those are the places where I’m holding myself back from my deepest dreams and desires. I’ve heard that eventually you come to a point where nothing is scary because you’ve walked through the fire of fear so many times. I will get there! And if this speaks to you, I KNOW you can do it, too.
Let’s Share This Experience Together
This blog was first inspired by the desire to share the real me with you, to show you the truth of my journey and the lessons that come with it. And it has grown into an opportunity for me to be a part of the self-empowered entrepreneur movement, one that rises above the fears that we all have to get to the spectacular, life changing rewards on the other side.
Going forward, I will share my real thoughts and greatest lessons as I build my businesses and as I strive to continuously create a life I love. Sometimes living this life looks amazing and sometimes it’s ugly and terrifying, but I’ve come to see that we are the strongest when we can share who we truly are with each other. Like you – I’m most passionately trying to live my fullest life. Let’s walk through the flames of the fire together.
To explore more in depth on the lessons I’ve learned in life and business, check out my upcoming learning series, Course Corrected.