Overcoming Fear with Courage

Fear and CourageAs adults, we aren’t fearful of monsters under our bed anymore. Instead it might be how to support a family when faced with unemployment, being alone after divorcing, or life changing once becoming an empty nester. While these few examples of adult fears potentially have more impact on us than the possibility of a monster under the bed, they are no more or less scary than what a child faces.

At some point in life–for both children and adults– it’s time to face our fears. Sometimes we come to the realization on our own, and other times it is forced upon us. Last month, for example, Monkey experienced the latter situation. Overcoming one of his fears meant me forcing him to ride a horse on vacation.

Monkey accomplished conquering his fear with the key component in overcoming all fears: courage. While I prodded him to try, it was ultimately his decision to get in the saddle. Seeing the initial look of trepidation on his face, I wondered if I made a mistake in pushing the issue, but knew halfway through the ride it was a great decision. Over the course of an hour I watched Monkey’s fear turn into joy, not just because he was having a wonderful time, but because he was so proud of himself for overcoming a fear. He learned through the experience there’s always more satisfaction in accomplishing something that started out as a challenge instead of being an easy task from the beginning. As a parent, it was wonderful to watch this realization take hold in my son.

I had another proud moment that day riding; I overcame my own fear of horses. A scary childhood experience riding a horse coupled with the enormous teeth they have, riding has been an activity I have avoided as an adult. As I bounced between my pride in Monkey and in myself, old feelings of all the fears I tackled following my separation came rushing to mind. It was nice to reminisce over the challenges I have faced in recent years, and how much I have accomplished along the way. Overcoming a fear of horses seemed so easy in comparison.

Going through separation, divorce, and all the challenges that came along with it, I was thrust into facing many fears simultaneously over the last five years. A few months after the separation, I wiped my red, swollen eyes, got off the sofa, and decided to face life as a Naked Girl in a Dress. It didn’t start with immediately overcoming all fears, and knowing exactly the path to walk down, but rather a trial-and-error approach to making life-changing decisions for myself and the kids. I made progress and had setbacks, but I kept moving forward by embracing courage. I learned through small feats and large, once courage has been developed, tackling new fears becomes easier.

Seeing Monkey make his own progress, and knowing the horseback riding experience will make the next fear a little easier to overcome, was a happy motherhood moment for me. And, knowing we both had a naked-girl-in-a-dress moment was even more special as I tackled my own fear of horses when I hopped in the saddle that day, too.

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.”
~Eleanor Roosevelt


8 responses to “Overcoming Fear with Courage”

  1. Love, love, love this post. Recently separated from my husband and in the middle of a divorce and facing so many life changes, I understand and feel inspired by reading your words. I didn’t become a naked girl in a dress per se, but I did decide to become a fierce diva. Hopefully ,I can face my challenges with the poise and grace that you have described here.

    1. Naked Girl in a Dress

      Part of me wants to say the appropriate thing–that I am so sorry you are going through this. But the part of me that has been through the process wants to tell you so much adventure and happiness awaits you. Work through and be respectful of the need to grieve the loss, and then learn to fly fearlessly.

      Also, being a fierce diva sounds like more fun than a naked girl in a dress!

  2. Love your courage….both the modeled courage for Monkey and the genuine version for yourself!

    1. Naked Girl in a Dress

      Thanks, Kimberly! These feats are so much easier than the ones I faced a few years ago. I am embracing these little challenges, knowing what the alternative feels like.

  3. What a great reminder that we all have fear starting as young children. Your monkey was very brave (I guess he gets that from his mom!). I remember being so scared when I was first separated because of all the “what if’s” going through my mind. I think developing confidence helps overcome that fear as well.

    1. Naked Girl in a Dress

      The “what-ifs” were so significant during my separation that I became paralyzed with fear. It’s so much better to face a horse instead!

  4. That’s great. Of course I would have had to overcome me fear of letting one of my children on a horse!

    1. Naked Girl in a Dress

      I had that fear, too!