Patty Chang Anker

Some Nerve

Transforming "I Can't" or "I Don't" Into "I DID IT"

When we choose to try, and choose to hang in there, we can surprise ourselves

Posted Aug 26, 2014


Patty Chang Anker Diving

The end of summer is upon us. Remember in  "3 Ideas for a Summer to Remember" I suggested trying something that scares you, or that you haven't done in a long time, or commit to a goal that is difficult to accomplish?  So many of you did just that and it's been really fun to hear your stories. Here are two that arrived in my inbox recently on the same day:

"I too, have always feared diving but haven't thought about it my whole adult life. I declined to learn to dive as a child, too scary. Last night I wandered into a free swim clinic at my health club. Had no intention of going beforehand. At the end of the class, the teacher said we would dive now. I was ready to walk out but of course, thought of your video. And I dove 3 times, for the first time in my life. And I survived to tell you about it!"  - Fran

The video Fran is referring to:  TEDx Talk "Warning: Leaving Comfort Zone. Things Could Get Exciting."

And then this came in:

"I wanted to tell you what I tried…a paddleboard! My husband and I got away for a few days to Mexico without kids at a place that included free basic water sports. I saw all these people on paddleboards and it looked like so much fun. But I was scared because anything involving balancing is not exactly my forte. I also didn't want to get "unrelaxed" during my rare kid-free time. Still, I thought that this was the best chance I would get to do it, and I did not want to miss out. Plus, I did think of you and your experiences, Patty! But I was really anxious!

So I observed some people's technique, then got out there. First, I was on my knees, then stood up, and oh, how my legs wobbled! I guess this was because of the small waves close to shore, but also my legs were shaking from nerves for sure. But I got out into the water okay. I set myself a goal of a certain distance out, and made it that far. Great! But then I had to turn, and that was when I suddenly lost my balance and toppled into the water Panic rose up, but I just tried not to think too much, grabbed my oar, got back upright on the board, and paddled my way back.

So I did it! I am actually really glad that I fell, because now I know that the next time (!), everything will be all right whether I stay balanced or not." –Elizabeth

Both these stories resonated with me because my entire fear facing journey began with diving into a swimming pool ("Diving with Z: The Board"), and the only time I've tried SUP (Stand Up Paddleboard) I spent more time in the water than on the board! I love the way Fran resisted the urge to walk out of the class, and the way Elizabeth chose to not think too much when she fell but just get back on. We often underestimate our ability to physically do what needs to be done - but when we choose to try, when we choose to hang in there, we can surprise ourselves.

As for me, I declared I would face my fear of rivers by kayaking across the Hudson River, which I did with some anxiety but a great sense of wonder ("A Retreat to Remember"). And commit to something difficult for me by working up to swimming 20 laps, which I did, albeit painfully slowly and with lots of resting. I said I would play frisbee, which I haven't yet, but I will–and everyone in the vicinity should run for cover when I do.

It's been a difficult summer in some respects–life always comes with ups and downs.  But by committing to a few fun and meaningful acts, it's also been a sweet and memorable season.

Next week, everyone will be asking "How was your summer?" It's not too late to create some great stories to tell! And remember to share them here.

P.S. If that's not enough inspiration, watch this video "A French Bulldog Conquers Fear and Takes First Big Leap" which a friend just posted on my Facebook Timeline. "This made me think of you," she wrote. I love it. It makes me think of all of you.