Conquering Fear: A Trip Through the Wilderness


‘Wilderness’ is not a metaphor; this title is to be taken very literally.

I do not like woods or wildlife. Animals frighten me, and I’m not particularly fond of bugs. But when my co-worker invited me to check out his workspace, as part of my on-boarding, I was in full support. I was familiar with his location since, in the past, we’ve utilized his beautiful outdoor oasis for events. The last time I’d been there, spring had just started breaking through. The grounds I’m most familiar with resembles camping space—there’s a barn, a firepit, and an ‘in progress’ fire pit. It’s a beautiful space. This particular time visiting, I was interested in him taking me through the garden that I’d never seen and hearing him explain the development of the space itself.

That’s certainly how the meeting started, before it took its turn.  

“So is this entire space yours?” I foolishly asked, appearing to be interested in seeing the additional acres hiding behind forest trees. “Yeah,” he responded. “There are beehives further back, and various paths through here,” he continued.  

I was satisfied with that response, but he was not. “Let’s go!” he proceeded.

I made it clear to him, just like I did to you, that I do not like woods, wildlife, or wild animals. He asked if “deer, coyotes, or bobcats” are okay.

“Hell no!” I thought.

“Hell no!” I responded.

I would’ve taken his inquiry as a joke if I hadn’t spent the last two years on that campus, seeing coyotes darting through the parking lot. It wasn’t until he mentioned it that I realized we were about to enter their storehouse. Regardless, he convinced me to start down the path, seeing how far I get before getting uncomfortable and wanting to turn around.

Here’s what I learned while terrifyingly trekking through those woods:

Focus on the goal

When I took that first step I should’ve known that I was already in this. It wasn’t until he mentioned the fastest way out of the path, isn’t back, it’s through, that I realized I was stuck here. At that point my goal wasn’t learning more about this outdoor space, it was about getting out unhinged—and that’s exactly what I focused on. I couldn’t worry too much about how many more steps I’d have to take, or what may have been off ruffling in the woods—doing so would’ve made the journey so much worse—all I could do was focus on taking the step in front of me. Then another. Then another. One foot in front of the other until I started to see a break through the trees and the open space we started our journey at. Nothing else mattered when I was going through but the goal of getting out.   

Pushing through is a choice

I could’ve allowed my fear to paralyze me. I could’ve stood still in fear and waited, perhaps, for someone to carry me out. For my colleague to realize my sheer terror and for him to politely escort me out with my eyes closed. Shoot, I could’ve taken two steps forward and ran back when it got too real for me. But I didn’t. I moved forward.  So often we allow our fear to dictate our decisions, and then blame it (fear) for our lack of movement or advancement. But in everything, our decision to move forward, is exactly that: a decision. It is our choice to choose how we defeat fear. It’s our choice to decide if we allow it to control us. And in that moment, I made the choice to continue. No matter what the path looked like ahead, I was determined to see it through.

Conquering fear isn’t all about abolishing it, sometimes it’s about moving forward with it

I’d be lying if I didn’t say that every step of the way was frightening. While I didn’t worry too much about anything outside of my immediate eyesight, I was fearful of what I couldn’t see. Regardless I moved forward anyway. I focused on my goal, and made the choice to push through, in spite of my fear. It didn’t disappear; it sat right in the middle of my chest the whole time. It never went away. Not until we cleared the path and got back to a familiar place. And truly that was enough for me. Conquering fear wasn’t the point, doing it with the fear was. I will still be afraid to trek through those woods — fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me — but making it through with fear in tact was the point. Seeing what I could do with fear, made me excited for the next opportunity I achieve with fear following closely behind.  

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