I have long believed that our biggest fears are that which we most need to conquer in this lifetime. If we are here to grow, to flourish, to learn, to experience, then it only stands to reason that we’ll want to keep reaching out, experiencing more than we have experienced before; growing and expanding past where we were yesterday. There’s a knowing inside of all of us that we’re powerful, that we’re capable, that we are authentically us. And that same knowing ties to a need to be expressed that won’t sleep until we’ve fed it. But it’s not that easy. That need to be expressed often starves because of its counterpart; fear. That often times crippling little something inside of us that stops us, tells us we can’t, even paralyzes us.
And, like all of us, standing right next to the paralyzing fear, I was also born with this little voice inside me that said “but I wanna!”. The kicking, screaming little child that just knew she could really fly, she really was Wonder Woman, and she really could be anything she wanted to be. The part of me that yearned to create big things. The part of me that wouldn’t rest until it was satisfied. And, ironically enough, over time it also started to seem that the same part of me that sometimes suppressed the fullness of life, that held me back and made me crumble at times, also somehow correlated with the part of me that wanted to run, and jump, and create. The more I held myself back from my truth, the more I allowed myself to cower into my self sabotage, the more the part of me that wanted to take on the world felt the need to break free. Was it really possible that the part of me that was unconsciously scared of living fully was also somehow linked to the part of me that saw the vastness of life and all it had to offer? How big I could be, how much I could grow, how capable I really was? I began to see that the scared part of me actually knew the answer; that that was what actually had her really scared. She knew her power, and that, was the truly scary part.
I could go on and on about the difference between “ego” and “essence”, between our fears, limiting beliefs, the part of us that wants to keep us safe, and our soul, its true calling, and the higher-self part of us that has always known we were already safe. And yes, that’s something we all go through. But if there were a link, would it have to be a battle? If breaking through the fears were our souls’ true calling, would that change our perception?
Last week I was interviewing the founder of Purpose Fairy, Luminita Saviuc (for my upcoming Step Into Something Bigger free online event), and she told me a story. In her story (which came from a book that I sadly can’t recall), a man told his niece that next time she saw a shark in her dreams, why not try to make friends with it? And the girl did. The next time the shark came to her in her dreams, she found herself riding it and making friends with it. That same sense of fear that confronted the little girl led her to finding a new sense of fulfillment. That need to face darkness, led to more light and joy.
The clarity dawned upon me that riding sharks was already my favorite hobby. Because I had learned to merge the powerless part of me with the powerful, I had begun to see each “shark” in front of me as that which I most needed to confront. The last couple of years of my life has been nothing but big leap after big leap, and it has only led to making friends with where I was leaping, with the proverbial shark I was riding, each time. What seems scary to us becomes second nature once we’ve gone there. We often need to start out by getting in the water, if that’s what seems scary. Eventually we’re ready to notice the harmless nurse sharks below us, and let them swim around us. After some time we’re ready to ride one. And eventually, we become ready to take a leap ride a great white. With each leap to the next scariest thing it doesn’t necessarily get any easier (more on that coming later, as boy it’s been a ride!), but we do develop a knowing that everything will be okay. And eventually, we get used to the adrenaline kicking in. The very thing that stops us from living life more fully, when confronted, actually brings us more life.
I look back at the sharks I rode just a year ago – the ones that had me stopping in my tracks, throwing up my hands, and asking whether I was making a huge mistake. Each one had within it a knowing that it was the leap I had to take, intermingled with a doubt and a story that it was the craziest thing I may have done yet. Because that’s the thing about riding sharks. There’s little logic to it. What seems like it could eat us alive, is usually our best friend when we stand next to it, take it by the hand, and allow the fearless part of us to show the fearful the way. And now, those same sharks seem like small game to me. And next week or next year, as I hop on an even bigger shark, so will the one I’m currently riding seem in retrospect. Because I chose to leave pragmatism behind and leap through the fear and the possibility of aliveness standing in front of me.
Now, I’m not saying to leave all pragmatism behind. In fact, we talk about that in Chris Attwood and Lethia Owens‘ interviews on the latest shark I’m riding. But I am saying, that when you’re ready to get in the water, do it. When you’re ready to jump the wave that seemed scary before you got in the water, do that. And when you’re ready to grab on to a shark, make friends with it, and ride it (albeit sometimes in reverse order), you can trust that the fear that rises up within you, will also meet you with an aliveness makes the whole world sparkle.
Yes, I said sparkle. Life may not be all rainbows and lollipops, and riding proverbial sharks is still ugly and scary at times, but when we confront our fears, we’re ultimately met with butterflies and unicorns, or at least that exhilarating feeling of riding the wave, in return. Amen for sharks, and amen for the part of us that won’t sit still until we’ve made friends with them enough to ride them.