So, on New Year’s Day, I took the plunge—the Polar Bear Plunge, that is. Yup, I stripped down to a bikini in forty-something degree weather, and submerged myself into a forty-something degree ocean. Am I crazy? Yeah, maybe a little, but it was exhilarating.
When I decided I wanted to do it, I asked a bunch of friends if they’d join me. Everyone replied with sarcastic comments as if it was never even a consideration for them. The day before the plunge, a friend asked me why I wanted to do it. While I had spent some time wondering why no one else wanted to go for it, I hadn’t actually thought about why I did.
In that moment I told her it’s because I like to scare the hell out of myself. Hm, what’s that all about? I thought some more and realized the reason why I like to do things other people often think are crazy (rollercoasters, trapeze, skydiving, paragliding…the polar bear plunge). It’s because I like to challenge myself, and I love the feeling of being scared, and doing something anyway. In those moments when I face a fear head on, I feel empowered, strong—like I could do anything.
Fear can be broken down as False Evidence Appearing Real. Folks often talk themselves out of things because of their fears, before giving themselves a chance to think about the possible awesome outcomes. What if _______ happens? I might end up feeling ______. I’ll never be good enough to do ______. Our list of fears goes on and on. We think we are protecting ourselves, but really we just keep ourselves stagnant because it’s easier and often comfier.
We can spend our lives believing our fears, avoiding, and ultimately missing out on experiences—or we can choose to not let fear get in our way. Zig Zigler said “Fear has two meanings: ‘Forget everything and run’ or ‘Face everything and rise.’ The choice is yours.” I prefer to rise.
Now, I’m not saying everyone should, or needs to jump out of a plane or run half-naked into a freezing ocean, but facing our fears head on can feel amazing. My heart was racing before I ran into the ocean on Sunday. My mind was racing too. I hate being cold. Why am I doing this? Is this dangerous? But I chose not to give into those fears. Instead, I thought This is gonna be such a rush! I can do this! I love doing things that are “crazy!” You only live once (Well I’m not so sure about that one, but we can save that for another post)!
The actual plunge lasted a whopping minute, but that one minute left me feeling alive, energized, proud, and full of energy. It’s not that I wouldn’t have had a nice day if I hadn’t done it, but it was definitely enhanced because of the experience. And yes, I want to do it again next year—and so does the friend I finally convinced to do it with me, as well as another friend.
In this new year, I invite you to find something that scares the hell out of you, and do it anyway. Have that difficult conversation, go for that new job, commit to getting healthier, be vulnerable in your relationship, go bungee jumping. See what happens—you might be pleasantly surprised by the outcome. If not, you don’t ever have to do it again, but if you don’t try, you will never know anything but the stories you make up in your head.
That’s it—that’s all I got for ya!