Emotional Work

Day 231 and Afraid of Feeling Fear

Being sick has left me with some scars that I am working through. Currently I’m afraid of pushing myself to my limits. I don’t know it for a fact but I fear some of the severity of my illness was tied to the overwork that is required when working in startup life. So now I’m afraid of overdoing things physically. I’m struggling to even set the boundaries of what 50% capacity would look like.

This isn’t the first time I’ve struggled with the question of my capacity. I’ve been a fan of what I call the “Gattaca” method since I was a child. “Never save anything for the swim back.” But now having experienced the worst case scenario of being unable to work for two years I’m gun shy. That common knowledge says failure “is never as bad as you imagine” is bullshit. Losing two years of my life was fucking awful. What if next time I give my all and I lose more than two years? I’m running myself in circles with this fear without any indication that it will become reality.

When I was a teenager I rode horses. I liked cross country eventing where you jump over obstacles on an open field. It’s a bit dangerous. That’s how Christopher Reeves got hurt. I had plenty of spills but it never really upset me. I always got back on the horse. I wanted to become more competitive so bought a thoroughbred who was being retrained from being a racehorse. I thought I was a talented enough rider for the job. I wasn’t.

He was a high strung panicky creature and threw me into a wall. I cracked my helmet, blacked out briefly and was diagnosed with a concussion the next day. Despite the severity of the fall, I got back on the horse immediately. I was afraid of being scared. So I pushed through.

Turns out I should have just felt the fear. I should have gone to the doctor, allowed myself to recover and not pushed through it. I never fully recovered my nerve about that concussion. I just slowly circled the drain emotionally and my fear won over my enthusiasm for rising. I never went back to competing in eventing. Instead of working through my fear I chose to ignore it. That turned out to be a sure fire way to let fear win in the end.

I don’t want to be afraid of being scared. I want to embrace my feelings and their origins. I want to come to terms with them. Because unlike horseback riding, I intend to keep working.