What does it take to conquer your fears?

I’m tending to realize there’s one essential key to conquering my most paralyzing fears.

It’s that bitch of an answer I know is true but hate hearing again and again when I’m working on my writing, after painful relationship transitions, after any transition. *Sigh*

I remember sitting in Spanish class in middle school learning “paciente” and “impaciente.” And I thought the former applied to me– I was dead wrong.

Tick, tick, tick…

Time. Yeah, it all takes time.

I like it better when Amy Grant sings it, “It takes a little time sometimes…

As much as I would love to believe Fear Factor and even The Amazing Race’s Phil Keoghan that the time to do everything is RIGHT NOW, my experiences tell me that immediately facing my fears isn’t always the best approach.

Walking into a fear confrontation, fear-busting situation works best for me when I’m prepared. It takes getting myself into the right mindset. It takes getting to the point where continuing to be afraid is holding me back so much that I can see the cost, striding ahead in front of me while I hang back.

I’ve conquered a lot of fears this year.

Just this Christmas break, I went to a rock climbing gym. And I climbed up at least five different courses. All the way to the top.

Last time I went to a gym like that, I tired myself out only halfway up because I could feel the gap growing between me and the ground–and my classmates eyes’ watching me not climbing but clinging to the wall.

Sure, I didn’t look down much this time around either, but I didn’t give up–even when one of the bouldering routes made my head feel dizzy near the end. I purposefully backed off and gave up three times before one push of encouragement from my best friend finally helped me make that final grab for the last hold.

Years later, what’s the difference?

I’m no longer beating myself up for failing or putting myself in situations where I might very well fail. Not when it means telling my childhood best friend that I’d rather just get coffee. We always played such imaginary fun games as kids growing up in Tennessee, but she always took the lead on the risky things like biking, hiking, climbing, and generally staying active. I was used to being the scaredy cat who wouldn’t even play Nintendo 64 for fear of coming in last in every race.

I didn’t have to prove anything to her, I just didn’t want to miss out on the fun.

And that’s the difference: I don’t have as much to prove. The only thing driving me to confront all my fears from heights to the job search, to my childhood nightmares (see this tweet for another #horrorplay related fear I giddily conquered in November) is the natural course of what I want and need from life.


Indy Convergence tested my fears–sharing and directing my new work.

So yeah, I still refused to step on the glass floor at the CN tower–even though it’s way safer than rock climbing. (I thought a few glasses of wine would make me more fearless… not in this case.)

And there’s part of me that respects the fears I still have enough to let them run their course, to tell their stories, to shape me into the person I’m meant to be. At least when the “impaciente” part of me isn’t screaming to just move on already…

On the other hand, now that I’ve started I have to admit: conquering fears is ADDICTING. Getting over that first hump has given me a burst of adrenaline and endorphins I want to keep pumping into my body. Just gotta keep taking deep breaths and watching and waiting for those moments when everything’s aligned for me to triumph.

When will you be ready to conquer your fears? Only time will tell… *&%t stupid *&%#ing TIME


About austinausten88

Playwright in love with Classic films, afternoon tea, and Noel Coward. She recently graduated from Rice University. In the fall, she will be exchanging her English major undergraduate status for that of Theatre & Performance Studies graduate student.
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2 Responses to What does it take to conquer your fears?

  1. love it. i’ve recently been pushing myself to be more uncomfortable, doing things i never would have before. like… acting and script-reading workshops! very scary but i feel alive afterwards 🙂

  2. Pingback: Oh the Horror – Staged Reading of RAGGEDY’S KINGDOM | gladlybeyondaustinausten

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