by guest blogger Maya Rodale, author of smart and sassy romance novels
Like any sane person, I was afraid to ride a bike through New York City. But The Husband persuaded me to venture out with him to the safe, protected, beautiful paths along the West Side Highway or through Central Park. To get there, I had to face my fear of riding through city traffic.
We left early while the city was still relatively quiet. At first, we took the smaller streets instead of the major avenues. We went together. Not only did this become routine (and thus less scary), but it also built up my confidence. I discovered why I was taking the risk: the sheer joy of a long bike ride through the parks with sunshine on my face. I wasn’t going to miss that because I was afraid of a small part of the journey.
I’ve thought a lot about fear in the past year as I lived with the consequences of decisions made because I was scared or doubted myself. Not the don’t-go-down-that-dark-alley kind of fear, but little voice inside that says, “Maybe you’re wrong” and “Really? Are you sure?” or “Is that really worth the risk?” On the one hand, it’s a good voice to listen to because it can help us see another point of view or keep us from disastrous choices. On the other hand, blindly obeying it can keep us safe—with a steady heartbeat instead of a racing one, with sunshine through the window instead of warmth on our faces, with the pulsing energy of the city somewhere out there instead of all around us.
Awesomeness awaits you after you push past the fear. I have since discovered that riding through fast, overwhelming traffic is its own kind of meditation: With all my senses attuned to staying safe, there’s no room left in my brain for other thoughts or worries. When I can weave through a long line of cars stopped at a light, I think, Suckers. It’s no longer just about the destination, but also the adventurous journey of getting there.
By the end of 2013 I understood, for the first time, the phrase “the courage of one’s convictions.” It’s hard and scary to ignore the doubts and the risks. It can be uncomfortable and awkward to step outside one’s comfort zone. But on the other side, my goal for the next year is to experience feelings of exhilaration and freedom and to know the glorious feeling of riding fast with the wind at my back. To be fearless—or at least not let fear hold me back.
Has fear ever held you back?
Maya Rodale is the author of multiple historical romance novels, as well as the nonfiction book Dangerous Books for Girls: The Bad Reputation of Romance Novels, Explained. She has a master’s degree from New York University and lives in Manhattan with her darling dog and a rogue of her own. Her latest book is The Wicked Wallflower. Visit her online at mayarodale.com or say hello to @mayarodale on Twitter.