Let’s talk about fear.
I am writing this from the place that frightens me the most in the entire world. I’m writing this from a plane at 30,000 feet. I am so scared that I feel dizzy and sick. I am so scared that every song that comes on my iPod is a magic signal from the universe that I am about to die. (“3 Doors Down? I AM GOING TO DIE LISTENING TO 3 DOORS DOWN!!!! FFFFFFUUUUUUU!!!) Every bump makes me jump like a cat on a hot tin roof. And writing this….
Oh writing this…..
I am 2/3rd convinced that I am basically provoking the universe and am seconds away from my fiery demise.
I don’t just hate to fly - I have a full on phobia. I couldn’t say the word “plane” for two years. My coworkers used to hide little cartoon prop planes everywhere because, when I saw them, I would faint. Our manager had to put a stop to it after I fell and split my scalp on a table. Every time a plane goes overhead, I flinch. (Even in my sleep, which was really awesome when I lived by the Burbank airport.) Whenever people talk about planes or crashes, I have to leave the room. And not calmly, either. I run. Because a complete and utter panic attack is sure to follow.
So….. why expose myself like this? Why poke and prod at my fears? Because I refuse to let them control me. I have accepted that I will never be less scared of flying. I have been on hundreds of plane flights. I was on over 300 flights in one year. I hated them all. I was a terrified mess for each one. Even taking medication just makes me deathly silent. If you ever want to see me CALM, put me on a plane. Outwardly, I seem like the fucking Iron Lady. But, if you pay attention, my knuckles are white and my breathing is harsh. Internally, I am screaming and putting all of my will into not doing it out loud.
Speaking of medication, I take an average of 6 Atavan for a flight from LA to NYC. I’m much more likely to die of a drug overdose than a plane crash but it gets me through it……. when I can medicate. Which, if I am traveling for business, isn’t usually. I go into a fucking coma for 24 hours after taking that much Atavan. So if I have to do anything that day or the next, I can’t medicate. I try taking one or two pills but it does little.
So, a lot of these flights, I white knuckle through it. Because if I want to visit Paris or go home to see my folks or grow my career in the music industry, there is no other alternative. You can’t go on an international tour if you insist on a fucking Spanish galleon from her Majesty’s Royal Navy to get you to your gigs. Labels won’t even give you tour support for a shitty 1970s van. They aren’t going to give me an Armada. (I mean, not until I become Evil Overlord and convert the labels into the first legions of my Doom Army but that is another rant.)
I’ve had friends call me fearless. I am NOT fearless. I am scared of damn near everything. I am scared of flying. I am afraid of the dark. I am afraid of strangers. I am afraid of the shit that I think about and all the shit that I don’t. I am afraid I am going to fail. I am afraid I am going to succeed only to find out that I absolutely hate who I have become. I am one big ball of self-doubt and fear and emotions that I cannot control.
But they can’t control me, either.
I can’t stop myself from being scared. My fear is raging through me right now, making it hard to type because my hands are shaking so badly. But this uncontrolled emotion did not stop me from getting on this plane. It won’t stop me the next time, or the next, or the time after that either. It will never stop me.
I don’t aspire to be fearless. I will never be fearless. But fear doesn’t have to be a weakness. It won’t be a strength, either. It will just be there. Like planes and distance and gravity.
I am scared right now. This is terrible, awful torture. My mind races and sees so many horrible things that it can’t even pick a terror to torment myself with - so I am dizzy from my spinning, out of control mind and near the verge of either vomiting or unconsciousness. I can barely focus enough to write this - and every letter makes it worse. But I wrote it. So fuck fear.
If anyone ever tells you to ignore your fears, tell them they are stupid. You can’t ignore your fears. But you can refuse to let them stop you from doing something. You may not be able to do it at your full capacity - I’m sure I am nowhere near as eloquent as normal and typing with blurry vision, shaking hands and on the verge of a total panic attack isn’t easy. But I am doing it. My muscles are jumping, ripping my hands off the keys as my body tries to let the fear take over. But I refuse. I just flat out refuse. Like it or lump it, body, because we are doing this. And we are doing it again and again and again.
I will always be afraid. Always. But I’m never stopping - at least, not because I’m afraid. That’s the thing I have control over.
So fuck “fearless”. Be a fucking ball of fear and nerves and doubt and terror. Carry that ball with you everywhere, because it’s yours and there is no kicking it away. But don’t ever let it stop you. It’s inside you and it will fit anywhere you do. If you can fit onto a plane, it will fit. If you can fit into a new job, it will fit. If you can fit into a new school or relationship or whatever, it will fit too. It will be uncomfortable and it will scream for your attention but it will fit.
My fear is me - but I am more than my fear.