I am a complete chicken when it comes to heights. It is mildly ridiculous. I can hardly climb a ladder. Today, while touring the battleship SS North Carolina, I could barely walk across the grated flooring. I had made it through the majority of the area before my husband noticed that I was walking timidly. He thought it was “cute,” and he had a good natured laugh….at me. I was glad that our kids were so distracted by the ship that they did not notice the difference in my stride.
My children do know that I am afraid of heights, and we will joke about it. However, I try not to let my fear show when I am experiencing it. If I act afraid, it can lead them to believe there is actually something to fear, which would be fine if we were more than ten feet off the ground (or not walking on a perfectly safe structure).
I do not want to pass my irrational fears on to my children. I’m hoping the trait I will pass on to them is that I try not to allow my fears to hold me back from living. For example, almost every time I go to King’s Dominion, I ride the drop tower once. It takes you up 272 feet and then drops you. You are safely strapped in, but there is nothing in front of you and nothing under you. I love/hate that ride. It terrifies me, but I beat it. Admittedly, I never ride it twice in one visit to the park.
I like showing myself that my feelings are not always a reflection of reality. I like proving to my emotions what logic already tells me. I also love that my kids see me do something I am terrified of and walk away just fine when it is over. We all have things we fear. Some fears are rational, and they can even protect us from danger. However, many of our fears are nothing more than distortions of reality.
I may never be able to climb a ladder without feeling nervous, but I will always make myself climb the rungs. This approach is equally important when it comes to fears that are less tangible like failure, rejection, and criticism. These fears are often as irrational as my fear of heights, and can make some tasks appear overwhelming.
Although, I feared critical eyes at the pool this evening, I still put on my swimsuit without letting my children hear a word of insecurity come out of my mouth. My fears are present, but I am facing them with the hope that I can teach my children to do the same.