The Fear of Success

The fear of success is an authentic human experience. Yet, the emotion seemed to have no source when I was crying with my morning coffee.

The Fear of Success

What brought on this sudden tearful episode? Then I had one of those aha moments when the ray of sunlight shines through. I had recently experienced an example of success and conquered the fear.

Was it a Walk or a Hike?

The weekend before, I joined the Blue Ridge Chapter of the North Carolina Native Plant Society for a hike. This event allowed me to get out and meet like-minded people, surround myself with nature, and exercise.

In my mind, it wasn’t clear whether I could complete this opportunity. There were a lot of unknowns. For example, how long is the hike? What is the difficulty?

Even so, I was excited to give it a try.

Was Nature Testing Me?

Waze showed it would take me about thirty-five minutes to drive to the Bluff Lodge parking lot in Doughton Park, where the hike began at 11 am.

As I’m ready to step into the shower, I see two young wild turkeys in a panic, caught inside my backyard fence. Mama turkey and two siblings are encouraging them from their freedom of the pasture.

The decision was clear; take my shower and deal with the turkeys afterward.

With focused determination, I completed my grooming, put on my clothes, and assessed the situation by the back door. My bird dog, Sugar, was on high alert. How could I open the fence gate and shoo the turkeys toward it while keeping Sugar at bay?

As soon as I opened the door, the young turkeys flew toward freedom over the fence. So all the worry before was wasted energy. And I was still on schedule to make it to the hike on time.

The Meadow Stroll

Our leader, Annkatrin, had structured the day with two opportunities. The first part was a stroll through a large meadow filled with blossoms, tall purple spikes of Liatris, yellow Coreopsis billowing below, and occasional milkweed in bloom.

Although I felt gratitude for this hour, I wanted more. So, talking with Annkatrin and looking at the map of the longer hike, I decided to try it. Three of us drove to the parking lot at the end of this extended portion, and a fourth followed to bring us back to the meadow. The drive back to the field was the perfect opportunity to tell the funny turkey story. We all enjoyed a good laugh.

The First Section

With my hiking boots strapped on, my walking poles in hand, and a day pack with water, I was enthusiastically ready to start.

hairy alumroot, Allegheny stonecrop, and reindeer lichen

Our route took us down a path toward the road, Annkatrin pointing out a few flowers in the shadows. As we trekked along the shoulder of The Blue Ridge Parkway, the variety of native plants exploded up the embankment. In this photo, there were three unusual finds; Hairy alumroot, Allegheny stonecrop, and reindeer lichen.

Traffic was light as we quickly crossed toward the Visitor Center. Luckily, the line for the portable toilets was short, and we soon observed another meadow. This time it was in a raised bed next to the parking lot by the park restaurant.

Annkatrin remarked, “I could spend hours here on the varieties of lichen alone.”

As we left the parking lot, another meadow of milkweed emerged. There wemale monarch on milkweed saw the only Monarch butterfly. We poised our phones and snapped photos and videos while he sipped nectar hungrily as he walked the flower clusters.

“We know it’s a male. He has white spots along the hind wings. Let’s hope he finds lots of eggs to fertilize. Since Monarchs are territorial, he’s staked out this entire area to defend.”

The Middle section

Halfway through the hike, two people turned around. So our original group of eighteen during the meadow stroll was reduced to eight. At that point, I felt good. There was a fantastic vista of the mountains with meadow flowers surrounding us.

The Final Miles

As we left the meadow with the incredible vista, I saw the trail meander up and down an area of tall grass before disappearing into the pine forest.

“The difficult section is coming up,” I thought.

It still was never as difficult as I feared it could be. The rain forecast had held off, mud was nonexistent, and we were in the shade. However, the hour was growing late. It was 3 pm, and we still had a quarter of the hike left. I had forgotten the opportunities to sit and rest might not show up. And I had been standing or walking for four hours, except for the short ride back and forth to the parking lot at the hike terminus. Three of the hikers in the front opted to press on, leaving Annkatrin, another couple, a young man, and myself at a slower pace. In the past, I would have berated myself for apparently holding up the hike. Annkatrin understood the consensus.Carolina lily

“We’ve seen a lot of flowers today. But, unfortunately, it’s put us a little behind schedule.”

Annkatrin’s words and this beautiful Carolina Lily gave me the strength to know I could still do this.

The Conclusion

Annkatrin and I emerged from the forest and joined the remaining three participants, who rested on the stone walls or foraged blackberries. First, I stretched my hamstrings and quadriceps after taking a long drink of water. Then, I stored everyone’s backpacks and my walking poles in the back of my Subaru while Annkatrin took the opportunity to continue her walk in nature.

After dropping Will, the youngest hiker, at the Visitor Center parking lot, I continued onto the Bluff Lodge parking. Bob, Catherine, and I talked about the hike and the native plant organization for a few minutes.

I felt it was time I voiced my disappointment in keeping up with the pace. It wasn’t a rant. Instead, it was a compassionate relation to the situation.

Then Catherine said, “Currently, we don’t offer less strenuous opportunities for our field trips. So perhaps it’s time we did.”

Her statement filled my heart with gratitude. Any kernel of guilt I felt dissolved. My difficulty opened new opportunities for myself and others. In the end, the fear of success and the sore muscles were minor considerations.

Taking a Leap of Faith

Have you ever found yourself taking a leap of faith? Or is safety in the shadows more your style? As I have spent more energy and time getting to the essence of my life, journaling, meditating, living in the moment, and listening to my heart, I find I’ve stepped out of the shadows and into the light. Two weeks ago, I spent four days on a woman’s retreat in the Poconos. It was my first visit to the area and I looked forward to a little fall color in addition to the companionship of like minded women.

Highlights of the retreat

Of course, the food was amazing. We had two participants sharing kitchen duty that included a professional chef. The lodge was laid out to accommodate all seventeen of us comfortably. We met with our three leaders from Inner Soul Retreats in the great room for morning restorative yoga, instruction and discussion, and many energy changing techniques designed to open our hearts to the possibilities each of us sought.

A few of us spent an hour hiking along one of the trails in hopes of seeing a waterfall. The dry summer nixed that idea. Instead we came upon the zip line we had heard about. For me, the idea of experiencing a zip line had never been considered due to my lifelong fear of heights. Earlier, when a roommate described her experience on a particularly long zip line in Hawaii, my fear was amplified.

Overcoming a lifelong fear

Imagine my surprise when after a technique shared with four other women, I lost all fear of the idea of the zip line! As the facilitators left to inquire about members of our group taking the tandem zip line plunge, I was right there with my cash, ready to signup.

It never occurred to me I’d need to hike up to the zip line platform. I suppose since all the blood was rushing to my leg muscles as I navigated the steep climb, I didn’t think about the jumping off part. Standing in line, two by two, held a little anxiety, but watching the freedom of letting go exhibited by the young group in front of us helped. I also saw I could hold onto the strap connecting my harness to the metal trolley.

Finally the time had come. We received our instructions again, “The safety line is off. You can sit now. Okay, lift your feet!”

I was actually zip lining, suspended in midair above the rocky terrain, holding onto dear life, my fingers clutching the strap, my eyes wide open taking it all in. Suddenly we connected with the bungee breaking system. Wow, that was startling. I hung in my harness as my partner was first directed to climb the movable staircase enabling the attendant to disconnect her contraption. As I walked up the stairs, I imagined this is how Pinocchio must have felt.

The Second Trip

My companion had opted for a single ride and was busy getting out of her harness. I started my climb up the trail with much more anticipation than my first time. Soon the rest of the second-timers joined me in line for the platform. Now my fear was gone replaced by excitement. I couldn’t wait to go again. This time I planned to let go and dance like John Travolta in Pulp Fiction.

As my feet left the safety of the platform, my spirit rose and I released my grip. My gyrations probably looked hilarious, but I felt alive and truly free for the first time in my life. Even the braking at the end was fun.

The Effect of Conquering Fear

What was my takeaway from the zip line? Taking a leap of faith I literally stepped into uncharted territory. By conquering one fear, it was so much easier to step into my life. Now my confidence soars and I know I can do anything. There are no limits.

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If you’re in Central Florida this December, I’m teaching an Introduction to Japanese Meditation class. Stay tuned for more information or even better,  sign up for my weekly newsletter. You’ll never miss a blog or an announcement.

Warmly,
Dawn