Flyboarding the Fear Away
I was reflecting upon the joys of reaching an age where I don't care as much about what other people think. It seemed to hit me at age 50 or so. Suddenly, that fear that used to stop me dead in my tracks from applying for that promotion, or saying what I really felt in a meeting, or made me think that everyone was actually thinking about my imperfections (rather than their own), just...disappeared. I first realized it when I was suspended in the air with jetpacks on my feet at Lake Powell. The Flyboard just looked plain fun, and the kids were doing it, so I wanted to try. And then found I wanted to try it over and over and over. No fear of looking stupid, no fear of failure, and no fear of falling. This was not the "me" I had known my whole life. This was another version. The one I desperately wanted to be when I was thirty and trying to first make my mark on the world.
I felt it again this week on top of a mountain when I realized I was the only person left after I had weathered an hour long hailstorm at 11,000 feet, just to enjoy the perfect peace and solitude of a mountain that had scared away everyone else with it's thunder and clapping lightning. I had simply sat in a grove of trees, with my rain gear on and weathered the storm so I could enjoy what happens after a storm passes--a quiet kindness the mountain returns in the form of perfectly still trees and glassy water.
It occurred to me that I suddenly had no fear--of what people thought, of failing if I tried something new, of looking silly, or saying the wrong thing at the wrong time, or of not being the right size, the right person, the right employee. It truly is an empowering time. I'm not sure if it's the age and experience that brought the "come what may" attitude, or if life finally kicked me in the butt enough that a switch flipped and holding back didn't make sense anymore. Regardless, here I am. Exquisitely imperfect. Flawed. Droopy. Older. Wiser. And comfortable at last in my own skin.
Harnessing a version of myself with no fear could, quite literally change the world. Harold Kushner wrote a book entitled, "When All You've Ever Wanted Isn't Enough: The Search for a Life that Matters. I read it first when I was forty and just meddling with the idea of embracing a fear free life in order to do all that I wanted. The premise of the book is that we all hit a point when leaving a legacy trumps any collection of money or worldly items. Although I loved the book, I haven't fully embraced it until now. It isn't until I'm fully living and feeling this new found freedom in myself that I am beginning to understand the true gift it is.
This new fearless me has no time to worry about making others feel all warm and fuzzy in order to get a point across. This doesn't mean I've turned into the 'onery cat lady down the street that yells at passers-by. But let's not waste time not doing something. Let's instead get to the business of trying, failing, correcting and hopefully succeeding when we try again! Let's be comfortable with ourselves and what we have to offer. Perhaps this is why I find Gary Vaynerchuk, investor and entrepreneur such a interesting person to follow. He's irreverent, controversial, fearless and on-point. I love that he wastes no time --no business foreplay-- before he shoots straight. The quick-draw McGraw in a western movie scene.
I see a soul sisters as well in Goop! CEO Gwyneth Paltrow. This is a woman who, like myself, has hit a point in her life where she in unapologetically authentic. She is aging gracefully, and accelerating past the younger version of herself as she comes into the older version of herself as confident mother, CEO, and market leader. In a recent podcast, she spoke of aging, "You know, as I go on in life and I feel more and more myself and less judgmental about myself, my values become clearer to me...I can be integrity all the time, which was much harder when you're a younger woman and you're trying to please and juggling all this stuff. Luckily, what's happening at the same time in parallel is you just start to like yourself. You get to a point where it's almost like your sort of pulchritude is waning in a way and your inner beauty is like, really coming out...It's like you feel so good: you know who you are, hopefully, you value the relationships in your life and your work and your contribution to the world."
Of course, I could do with a few less wrinkles, but even then, I post a lot more pictures without makeup or filters. Part of letting go of fear is letting go of the me I felt I had to project in years past.
What about you? As you learn and grow in life, do you find yourself living a more authentic life? Steve Jobs had it right..."Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone elses life. Don't be trapped by dogmas-which is livgin with the results of other peoples thinking. Don't let the noise of others opinion drown out your own inner voice. "
And that, my friends, is what you can expect from this "50 is the new 30" woman. Just trying to make up for lost time.