Those who know me, know that I’m notorious for my paralyzing fear of flying.
My first time flying will forever go down in history. Growing up, there were no opportunities for me to go on an airplane. As I grew up, the fear increased (possibly due to the fear of the unknown). When I was a cheerleader For the men’s basketball team at Seton Hall University, we had made it to the NCAA championship. The night ESPN posted the brackets, all my teammates were cheering around the TV for them to post our playoff game in a city far, far away. I, on the other hand, was rocking in the fetal position praying silently “Philadelphia, please, please, please, Philadelphia”.
So here it comes…the brackets come up and Seton Hall is playing in…Greensboro, North Carolina.
“Wait…that’s close, right? That’s drivable, right?”
My phone rings. It’s my coach.
“Get ready, girl…you’re going on an airplane tomorrow!”
Sooooo…with the help of my teammates and some muscle relaxers, I get on the plane. It’s not pretty. It’s not graceful. But I do it.
Since then, my flying experiences have varied. I’ve flown with people who were crazy supportive and sensitive to my fear and coached me through. And, in contrast, I’ve flown with people who were disgustingly insensitive to the point where I was “embarrassing” them. Although, it is known to be one of the most common fears among humans, I have still suffered much mockery and ridicule.
Then there are those that throw the statistics at me.
“You know it’s safer than driving.”
“Statistically, the chances of being in a plane crash are 1 out of a blah, blah, blah”.
Listen…if you know my life, you know I have found a way to consistently SLAY the statistics.
First of all…I had cancer…TWICE. I was first diagnosed under the age of 40.
Secondly, I was diagnosed with no family history of ANY cancer.
Third…I was told by, not one, but TWO fertility doctors that I would be unable to conceive naturally.
Ok…this one is weak, but I did get married over the age of 35 and gave birth at the age of 40. Statistically this is somewhat difficult to achieve. Who remembers the scene in Sleepless in Seattle? According to the statistics, I had a better chance of being killed by a terrorist.
So please…don’t come at me with statistics. Cause I’m a statistic slayer!
Last week I went on a business trip in Phoenix, AZ. It’s about a 5 ½ hour flight there and 4ish back to New Jersey. I usually fly once a year for work or pleasure.
Considering how “bumpy” the flight was to Arizona, I think I held up pretty well (with help from some Xanax). But what occurred to me, was that every time I have to fly, despite my fear…
I STILL GET ON THAT PLANE!!!!
So go ahead and throw me your mockery. Throw me your ridicule.
To be a warrior is to achieve, DESPITE your fear.
Facing a fear is one of the most difficult things a human can do. Our body is wired to “fight or flight” against fear. The fear response is inevitable to whatever your fear may be. However, to fight through it and to get to the other side takes a huge amount of bravery and courage. You may not get there with much grace, you may stumble and make an ass of yourself, but you get there…and that’s all that matters. Where others may walk away, “chicken out” or simply avoid, avoid , avoid…you bust in and muster through.
THAT makes you a warrior.
So say what you want about my irrational fears.
It’s not going to change that my fears are there. I have no idea why or where they came from. But, what’s important is that I don’t let my fears stop me. I still put myself out there. I stumble. I fall on my face. I get back up again.
And that, my friend…is the stuff of a true WARRIOR!
Janice M. Woerner, M.S., OTR/L is an Occupational Therapist, mother, blogger and breast cancer survivor. She is the founder and key contributor of JGH&W.com. Janice is a clinical educator and advocate for those afflicted with cancer and their families.
Contact at firstname.lastname@example.org or (914) 772-3870