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“We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face… we must do that which we think we cannot.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

I love this quote by Eleanor Roosevelt. Each time I read it, I think about the things that scare me … and there seems at times like there’s so much that scares me!

I can handle killing centipedes; speaking in public; working in downtown Detroit. No problem.

I just get scared by the unfamiliar or being in situations where I may be judged by others. Such as:

  • Dealing with home repairs that inexplicably crop up: Scary (and aggravating to boot)
  • Putting my writing out there for all to read and judge: I’m trembling as I write this.
  • Online dating: Seriously scares the hell out of me.

Those things frighten me but I do them anyway. I mean, in some situations, it took me years to convince myself to do them, like launching my own blog or doing online dating. But sometimes you just have to say, ‘I don’t care how I feel. I’m getting out of my own way and doing them!’

Back in October last year, my sister and I and a few of her coworkers took a trip to Cedar Point to celebrate her 40th birthday. For those of you unfamiliar with Cedar Point, it’s usually a popular summer destination for families who enjoy thrill rides and water rides. The place is mobbed during the warmer season but there were a healthy amount of people on the cold and overcast day we were there.

OH, SH*T!!!!!

OH, SH*T!!!!!

Now, I hadn’t been to Cedar Point in many years. I can’t even recall the last time I was there prior to this most recent visit. When my sister brought up the idea of going to the amusement park to shriek a welcome to her milestone birthday, I thought, ‘Wow, if that’s not a situation that warrants anti-anxiety medication, I don’t know what does.’

I asked myself, do I really want to do this? Wouldn’t it just be easier, less stressful, sitting at home, nice and comfy with my own thoughts?

I was nervous to go. Though I hadn’t been on a roller coaster in decades, I knew the experience wouldn’t be like it was when I was, say, 12. I’d read the older you get, the less g forces you can withstand.

I pushed that thought aside though and agreed to go. I thought it would be a nice sister-bonding experience. It would be fun. It would certainly be a unique way to spend the weekend. And it was.

I’m not saying it was an easy or comfortable experience. I really had to push myself to stand in those lines to get on those rides – more than a dozen of them to be exact, from coasters where you’re standing the whole time to rides where they have you sitting on something that looks like a spinning pendulum as it swings you back and forth. Have a hard time visualizing that? Check out the maXair.

 I was choosy about what I rode. Some of those rides I don’t think the human body was designed to withstand. I mean, have you seen the SlingShot? It’s essentially bungee jumping, but in reverse. They launch you 360 feet into the air and let you bounce until you come to a stop. The thought of riding that seriously makes me nauseous even now.

And so I found my boundary. I could say yes to some rides and no to other things that just seem insane … and mildly dangerous!

I learned a few other things that day too. I learned that in my “old” age of 42, I’ve grown scared of heights. I really don’t like the feeling of being suspended in mid-air as the roller coaster car spins you around hairpin turns, flips you upside down, muscles you around corners, hills and valleys. Oh, and let me not neglect to say they’ve added sound effects to these roller coasters too, to simulate the sound of screaming winds in your ear!

All said, I discovered things about myself. Yes, it probably sounds silly, trying to be philosophical about a visit to an amusement park. But I think what I learned from that day is if you don’t sometimes get out of your comfort zone, you never learn things about yourself. You never have fun. Facing your fear and pushing anxiety away is exhilarating!

I challenge you to face your fears and do that which you think you cannot do.