This post is about missed opportunities. It is about fear. It is about the gremlins that live in our heads, robbing us of so much joy and so much goodness. It is about the mistruths that take up residence in the recesses of our psyches, and the subsequent dreams that go unrealized. It is about the passion and purpose that so often gets left by the wayside as we travel through this thing called life.

Fear is a lie

I meet countless people these days. All walks of life. Male, female. Successful, struggling. Confident, timid. Givers, takers. Encouraging, sabotaging. Healthy, unhealthy. Determined, defeated. Doers, quitters. In my line of work, this is part and parcel. One thing these people have in common is that, in one way or another, they fall just short of actually LIVING. There are countless examples.

  • The teenager who is part of a “clique” that is not in line with their authentic self, all the while hiding their true identity so they can “fit in.”
  • The artist who puts their craft on hold because “there is no time,” but feels unfulfilled because a part of their soul is missing.
  • The professional who hates their job, but feels powerless to make a change.
  • The person who puts off most things “until tomorrow,” which in turn places very little value on today.
  • The person who does not want you to realize YOUR dreams because they gave up on THEIR dreams a long time ago.

This particular story has stuck with me for a while, because of the magnitude of the fear and how that fear can manifest itself. And, I know this is all too common in society today, so I want to share it with you. Not too long ago, I was working at a local health club. I was doing health assessments of the members and talking to them about the importance of a healthy diet combined with nutritional supplements. What usually happens in these scenarios is I set up a table in a high traffic area and try to be of service to as many people as possible in an allotted period of time. Most people do the skeptical, wary crab shuffle around me, trying not to make eye contact, for fear that I might do something really crazy, like suck their blood.

Replace fear of the unknown with curiousity

Let’s face it, in a situation like this, I am the “unknown,” and people are largely petrified of the “unknown,” so they avoid it like the plague. Here they were, just trying to go about their day and come in for their pilates class, and there is this strange woman in the lobby, with this strange machine. Their “WTF Sensors” go off, and they burn more calories trying to avoid me than they actually do in their workout. It used to bug me, but now I laugh and realize that the avoidance has everything to do with them – their fears, insecurities, and lack of information – and absolutley nothing at all to do with me, how I am doing my job, or the relevance and importance of my information. What they don’t realize in their haste to become invisible is that I have extremely beneficial information, yet I have absolutely no desire to force the information on them. What is the point of dragging someone through a presentation who has absolutely zero interest in the topic at hand, and less than zero desire to change their current circumstances? That’s the definition of wasted energy right there, so I don’t do it. It would be perfectly acceptable for people to return my eye contact, politely reciprocate in my hello, and mosey on along if they are not at all curious. I am not going to Jimmy SuperFly Snuka them when they walk by, so there is no need to get all weird. But, I digress, so back to the story…

So, here I am at this health club, and classes were in session at the time, so there wasn’t much foot traffic. The owners and I were talking about weekend plans with another woman, who happens to a single, 50-60 something empty-nester. The owners had a big night of dancing in Boston on the agenda, yet the single woman had no plans and expressed feeling sorry for herself because the kids were gone, she had no significant other, and she did not feel very useful (sad thought #1). So, the owners invited her out with them, told her how much fun it would be, and even extended an offer that she could stay over, so as not to have to drive home. She came up with every excuse in the book: she didn’t really know how to Latin dance, she isn’t familiar with Boston so driving would be a challenge, she bets she would never find anyone to dance with, and she wouldn’t want to be a “bother.” All excuses, based out of fear of the unknown. Had she gone, opened herself up to the possibility of having a good time, and given off some positive energy — there is no doubt in my mind that she would have had a blast!

This lead to a brief conversation about the energy we give off, and it is a valuable lesson for anyone who is reading this blog (quite frankly, for anyone who has a pulse). The owners shared that they EXPECT to have a fun night of dancing, so they always do. They put off a positive, welcoming vibe and never have a hard time finding a dance partner or working up a sweat. Were they to stand in the corner, unsure and unwelcoming, then the outcome would be very, very different. Don’t you agree? This is true for every area of your life — you get what you give. Your life mirrors your thoughts and actions right back to you. Think about that…it is absolutely true.

The next topic of conversation was nothing other than the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy, which the owners had not read yet, and the single woman was hesitant to read. We discussed the “mommy porn” angle, why women were reading this book, and some of the effects it had on the readers. Let’s face it, it is not literary genius; the plot is weak, at best. But, if nothing else, it is a very graphic, somewhat disturbing libido enhancer. Personally, I think my husband wishes there was a way to put books on “repeat” in a Kindle, much like you can repeat songs on an iPod. 😉 So, as we were all gabbing about the book and libidos, the single woman shared with us, kind of off-handedly, that she had stopped masturbating YEARS ago, so this book probably wasn’t for her. We were all aghast, and the owners prodded for more information while I contemplated how this conversation had gone from zero to sixty in a hurry. According to Single, she stopped because she was alone in life and she had a really strong fear that she would die that way and someone would find her cold, dead, naked, and in the act of pleasuring herself. We chuckled. We gasped. We tried to tell her she was being silly, but she would have none of it and she was adamant that this was something that would be denied to her until the day she actually perished (more likely in the checkout line at the supermarket or alone in a corner at a nightclub than getting busy with herself, if I can offer my opinion). The conversation moved on, the members came out of class, and that was the end of that tête-à-tête.

Stop being afraid

But, man, that conversation has stuck with me like glue. Not because I am a strong proponent of masturbation, but because I felt so sad that this woman, who already feels so alone, so unfulfilled, and so unsure of herself is denying herself what could be a source of pleasure and release solely because of an (irrational) fear. This is so much bigger than something sexual, and has much less to do with what happens between her legs than it does with what is going on between her ears! She is robbing herself of so much life because she is all-consumed with what *might* happen in her death. What a convoluted way of thinking! And, it got me wondering, what other kinds of things do we talk ourselves out of each and every day? What kind of joy are we missing? What kinds of memories are we not creating? What kinds of opportunities pass us by?

I would encourage you to start LIVING! Yes, we are all going to perish at some point in time — it is inevitable. But, what sets us apart when that day finally comes isn’t the way in which we died, it is the way in which we lived. So, let your hearts find joy, your erogenous zones find pleasure, your eyes sparkle, your laughter fill the air, your soul soar, and your spirit shine. There really is no other way to live — if you don’t actively seek out those kinds of things on a daily basis, then quite frankly, you have already perished in more ways than one.

As they say, “feel the fear, and do it anyway!”