Why standing up against fear has made me a better friend/mum/partnerNov 16, 2022
On the road to riches, there are many setbacks. It’s the same when setting out to achieve our dreams; we will eventually come face to face with our fears.
It’s also widely acknowledged that the greater our goals, the bigger our fears will be.
Fear can be a powerful emotion; it can also be both a motivator and a suppressor. When it’s overwhelming or suppressing it can be difficult to function.
It’s not easy, but you have to work through it, take back control, and start living, loving and working more confidently.
Fear needs to be reframed, so it’s useful. Fear can provide opportunities to show ourselves and the universe what we are made of. These are the challenges that we face, and achieve our goals in spite of them.
But I had to learn that lesson myself.
I was married at 24, and had my sights set on my career, and the success that goes with climbing the corporate ladder. I was slightly obsessed with my salary, and was always looking for the next, higher-paying role, and the money that went with it. I achieved great things over those 10 years, and ended up in a senior management role within the Australia/New Zealand region for a global corporation.
The focus on my career came with an unhealthy relationship with money and status to compensate for everything else I didn’t have.
When I eventually had time to reflect on where I was some 10 years later, I had to acknowledge that there was so much more to me than the job. I wanted a family, I wanted to be a mum.
It scared me that time was slipping away. But worse was my focus on my career; and keeping up appearances at work that saw me stay in my marriage long after it was over, until at 34 there I was alone, loveless and childless.
That’s when the fear set in, and it came at me from all angles.
- I’d never actually been alone in an empty house before. I’m one of four kids, with a father who worked from home (long before it was cool or necessary) – the house was always buzzing with life. I was petrified of being alone, and no amount of self-coaching really helped with the anxiety. I was forced to face the fear, and accept my marriage was over. With that reality came overcoming the fear and anxiety of sleeping on my own when my ex-husband moved out. Being alone took some acceptance, I was being adult-sitted by my family from time to time, while actually, slowly getting on with it. Eventually sitting in that fear, and being in it, made me appreciate the independence, and the silence.
- So I decided to get fit, and I achieved it – I was the fittest I had ever been. I was involved in the relatively unknown sport of Footbiking, and training hard. I dedicated myself so completely that within 12 months I was set to compete in the World Championships in The Netherlands. I’d never been to Europe (flying isn't a favourite thing either), but with a broken toe three months before the championships, I remained committed, and flew to Europe. The struggle of competing injured made things hard, and I slumped to my lowest mindframe there, feeling frightened I’d wasted an entire year with little joy. It affected my appreciation of where I was, and I just wanted to come back home.
- Sorting out my love life (I still wanted to be a mum) was another fear I had to conquer, and as all of my friends and family were coupled up (most) with kids, I chose the online dating route. Talk about nerve-racking, going out into the unknown, to meet people you don’t know. It’s brutal, and plays havoc with your confidence. I persisted, despite my scepticism, insecurity and discomfort, and it paid off. I met my partner.
- In 2020 I fell pregnant, which was exactly what I’d wanted, but didn’t anticipate all the fear that comes with it, plus it was scary times anyway with Covid taking over the world. I was petrified without the support and company of my friends and family. And I was sick – really sick. Nauseated and vomiting constantly, which only added to the woes. Even with a loving partner, it feels lonely, and scary, to not have your mum, sister or best friend by your side during all of that uncertainty to bolster you with their experience. I know I’m not the only one to have had the experience, but going to ultrasounds and specialist appointments is also scary when your partner can’t attend either.
The great thing is that fear, and overcoming it, has brought me here, and I’m a better person for the experience.
And since I’ve become a mum there have been some further challenges with Perinatal Depression and Anxiety (PNDA) that I’ve experienced. Through research, my new mindset and some hard work, I managed to kick those fears and anxiety to the curb also.
The fear of being single, the fear of long-haul flights, the fear of losing my identity with my career, the fear of putting myself out there emotionally for love, the everyday fear during Covid when I was pregnant, and the fear of being a bad mum, plus myriad other fears that stem from the big ones, could have broken me.
Instead, I stood in it and took it all on, only to find more clarity and fulfilment on the other side. Talking about it, getting help, taking it on, being brave is the person I want to be. I know there will be other fears and challenges ahead, especially as a mum.
It’s a work in progress.