On the brink of pulling the calendar off of my wall to replace it with a brand new one, I can’t help but think… “What a year!” Or, maybe a bit more accurately, “What a month!”
Over the past five weeks, I’ve gone on five separate trips… And I haven’t been home for more than six days in a row.
In the course of surviving — and somehow thoroughly enjoying — every nonstop minute of this past month, I’ve spent countless hours in cars, airports, and planes. While many people tend to fill those moments with music or movies, I decided to approach my downtime a little differently, and I used it to reflect and meditate on everything that has happened over the past year… Especially over the past month.
Plenty of thoughts and insights bubbled to the surface, but one in particular, from my whirlwind long weekend in Mexico, stood out as something worth sharing with you.
So just like usual for these coffee break posts… Grab a cup of coffee (might I suggest this yummy homemade peppermint mocha? or this fun homemade chai latte? or even the easiest ever healthy homemade hot chocolate?), settle in, and pretend like we’re sitting across from each other at a coffee shop!
Because if we were, this story and insights are what I’d share with you!
And somehow… I’m guessing I’m not the only one who feels this way.
“We’re headed down to the beach; want to come?”
My mind momentarily froze as my hotel roommate invited me along… And then immediately launched into a mini panic attack.
“No no no! Run away, run away! Say no! Stay in the room! Don’t you dare put on a swimsuit! What will everyone think?? That’s like social death! Stay covered up here in the hotel room where it’s safe! Don’t even think about going! Say no!!”
When I opened my mouth, my brain collapsed into a heap on the proverbial floor inside of my head.
“Sure, I’ll come! Want help with the sunscreen on your back?”
For the next 15 minutes as I tugged on my bathing suit and started spreading sunscreen across my face, arms, and legs, my mind stayed as blank as the first page of a brand new notebook. Still in shock, it couldn’t think of a single thing to shout at me… Not even how crazy or stupid or totally insane it thought I was being.
Up until this past summer, I hadn’t worn a swimsuit for over six years. I finally pulled one on while in Hawaii with my mom on her business trip… When I knew I’d never see any of the other vacationers lounging at the beach or pool ever again in my lifetime.
But here? In Mexico? Surrounded by old and new friends? All people whom I’d want to make a good impression in front of?
Part of me wanted to die.
…or at least trip and fall and have a really good excuse why I couldn’t walk down to the white sandy beach and splash around in the bright turquoise water while wearing a swimsuit.
As I slowly pulled my thin cover-up dress over my head and slid my feet into flip flops, I paused to look in the mirror. I took a deep breath. And another. “Well, here we go…” I thought as I grabbed my room key and a water bottle and headed downstairs.
I easily found my hotel roommate and her two friends, and I pulled a lounge chair into the shade underneath a large beach umbrella. I left my cover-up on, and I closed my eyes, still with my oversized sunglasses sitting on my face, listening to the chatter of other people surrounding me and the faint methodical whisper of waves tumbling over themselves to kiss the shore.
Eventually, another group of friends from the wedding party joined us and immediately dashed down to the water, splashing around like little kids. I observed from a distance, smiling at the pure innocent joy spread across their faces as they soaked up the salt water and sunshine then traipsed back up to the hotel’s pool and swim-up bar.
A while later, once nearly everyone I recognized had disappeared from the beach chairs, I found myself slipping out of my cover-up and slowly walking towards the water, the coarse sand pressing against my bare feet and in between my toes. Timidly, I glanced around, breathing a sigh of relief when I couldn’t see a single soul I knew from where I stood in the sand, and tiptoed closer to the waves, eventually letting the first refreshing drops stream over my feet.
After a few moments, I bravely took a few more steps forward, making my way into the ocean and feeling its strong pull tugging at my legs and around my belly. I bent my knees, not daring to test the powerful current by swimming out, yet still wanting to slip in further and feel the cool water on my shoulders and neck.
A couple of minutes passed by as I stood there, the salty sea water flowing all around me. Yet as I turned back to walk up the sandy hill to where I had left my towel on the lounge chair, I felt different…
Calm. Peaceful. Safe. Whole.
I had bravely faced one of my biggest fears, regardless of how irrational it seemed to others, worn a bathing suit in public… And the world didn’t end.
People didn’t even laugh at me or whisper things behind my back.
I had allowed myself to be vulnerable and seen…
And I had survived.
I had experienced something I never would have if I had stayed behind in the safety and comfort of the hotel room, simply sitting on the balcony looking out at other people enjoying the pristine beach and pool below.
How often do we do that?
How often do we let the thoughts and fears swirling around like tornados inside of our heads dictate what we say, feel, and do?
How often do we give power to them, allowing their strong winds to rip up and scatter the delicate roots of self-love planted in our hearts?
How often do we bend and break, listening to their negative messages pounding down and shattering our hearts like rocks hitting thin glass windowpanes?
It isn’t easy to stand up to our thoughts and fears. They can run wild and rampant, spreading like wildfire and affecting all aspects of our lives. They can grow bigger and stronger, commandeering every nook and cranny of our minds. Some days, it feels impossible to even consider standing up to them, let alone actually confront them.
In the moments that we do, in those moments where we dig deep and find the courage to face our fears head on, we see our fears for what they are… a facade, a farce, little more than a collection of ridiculous mental stories and images we’ve been repeating to ourselves… and, in doing so, they often disappear back into the nothingness from where they came.
Yes, it’s hard to do. Yes, it doesn’t always work that perfectly or smoothly. Yes, it can take many attempts, many stumbles and falls, before our fears even begin to start fading away.
We’re human. We don’t always succeed on the first try. That’s normal.
You still deserve to try. You still deserve the peace and love and joy and freedom that all come from standing up to your fears and letting them go. You still deserve the full and beautiful and incredible life that’s there for you, just on the other side of the fence, ready and waiting to embrace you with loving arms as you fly past your fears that keep you rooted in place.
And what’s more…
You’re strong enough. You’re kind enough. You’re smart enough. You’re brave enough.
You already have what it takes, lying deep inside of you, brightly glowing in your beating heart, to face your fears… and, not just face them, but leap and fly and soar past them.
And although what lies on the other side might be different for you and me — perhaps it’s a dream job or new home, perhaps it’s a husband or second child, perhaps it’s a vacation to a snow-capped mountaintop or a warm beach in Mexico — you truly deserve that beautiful and wonderful dream tugging you forward and shining forth from your soul. You deserve it, and you can have it.
So take a deep breath. And a second one.
Then stand up, bravely acknowledge the thoughts in your head and the racing of your heart, and take that first courageous step towards the big and beautiful dream you so truly deserve.
Because this is your moment. This is your year. This is your time to shine.
And I can’t wait to see all of the amazing and incredible things that are in store for you. ♡
Last summer, I started a special separate group where I’ve shared more thoughts like this about life, overcoming your fears, and creating the life of your dreams. If this blog post resonated with you, or if you feel like this group’s nurturing and support is something you might like, then I’d love for you to join me here. (It’s entirely free!)
I love this post, Amy!! We ALL have fears, whether irrational or not, they are our reality, and we have to do the work ourselves to overcome them. I’m so proud of you for stepping out of your comfort zone and conquering your fear! <3
Oh! And I just remembered a fear of my own that I faced that definitely applies! For most of my life, I’ve been super body self-conscious and conservative in how I dress. I would wear swimsuits in public, but for the last 5 or so years it’s mostly been one-piece suits unless I was by myself or just with Chris, or could slip into the hot tub and into the water super fast. This past year, since I started working out and feeling more confident, I told myself that I needed to get over these fears and just live my life! My tangible goal was to get to a place where I felt comfortable wearing a crop top in public… and this summer, I did it! First, I just jogged around my neighborhood in it, then I started wearing it around the house, then I went to the farmer’s market wearing it! I’ve always been a little judgmental of people that wore revealing clothing, because I was taught by my parents that those kind of people are shallow/looking for attention, and that’s not the way to be. However, this mindset ended up being a huge mental block for me, and once I realized that I COULD wear a crop top for my OWN reasons of conquering my fears, feeling cute, or just even being comfortable in hot Sacramento weather, I literally felt a weight lifted that I hadn’t even known was there. I haven’t been brave enough to wear something so bold anywhere where I knew I would see people I know, but perhaps that is a goal for next summer. Being casual and comfortable in a not-conservative swimsuit is still a struggle, especially around friends/family, but I’ve found that the hardest part is that first step. Like you, once I step into the water and start splashing around, that joy overpowers the voice in my head! <3
Thank you SO much for all that you just shared Andrea!! It is truly, TRULY inspiring to hear about your experience and break through with the crop tops you started wearing. I’m nowhere near that confidence level just yet… But I feel like I’m making progress after my beach experiences in Hawaii and Mexico. Who knows… Maybe this year, I’ll have to come visit you in Sac and we can walk around feeling so gorgeous and confident in crop tops together! 😉
I also think your point is so important about other people’s opinions influencing our own opinions — and our resulting thoughts and actions. When it’s something we’ve heard over and over and over again, it seeps into our subconscious and takes root… And often, it’s SO hard to realize that they’re invading weeds, rather than our original opinions and values. I’m even more proud of you for recognizing that and deciding to change your thoughts and actions as a result. That is NOT easy to do whatsoever — you’re such an inspiration, sweet pea!!! SOOO incredibly happy for you that this weight was lifted!!! ♡