It’s that little voice many of us carry inside. Maybe today its message is that you’re not good enough to apply for that job. Perhaps its saying that you’re not attractive or likable enough to go for the girl. Or maybe its shown up to silence you, fill you with fear of what you’re about to say, telling you you’ll offend others, they’ll think you’re stupid or you’ll make a mistake.
I can’t tell you the number of opportunities I’ve missed in life because of that voice. It’s kept me from careers, from confessing the deepest of loves and from a myriad of other opportunities.
But what stands out to me are the times in life when I’ve somehow found the courage to burst through that wall of fear. I once sat wailing on the floor, terrified of a trip I was about to embark on all alone to Ireland and Italy — only to stand up, force myself on to that plane, and end up having the time of my life. The time I sat trembling in class at Second City, terrified of getting up in front of others and trying to be funny, only to end up beating the fear and performing graduation shows with new, life-long friends on the main stage. Getting past that fear has never led to the pain or agony the fear promises. It always leads to positivity.
Last week I awoke to a local radio program advertising an Air Supply concert that was coming to town. Now, Air Supply hasn’t been around for awhile, but I love their music. I grew up on it, still know all the words to all the hits and was excited by the news I could catch a show a mere mile away.
Having recently lost my job, however, I was saddened to see ticket prices were… well, pricey. I quickly decided I shouldn’t go.
Then came the announcement. The radio station was about to hold an on-air contest. Out of five callers, the person with the best story of why they deserve the tickets would win two, plus backstage passes and a nice dinner out. “Why not give it a try?”, I thought. I mean, no one ever gets through to those contests anyways.
I picked up the phone and dialed. Then, before I knew it, the DJ’s voice was at the other end of the line. “Calling about the tickets? You’re caller 3. Please hold, and you’ll be on the air shortly.”
Ho-lee-crap. My anxiety went through the roof. What was I going to say? Was anyone I know going to hear me? Could I even talk right due to the massive stroke I felt like I was about to have? Is it wrong, annoying or shameful to use an illness to win tickets — because that’s about all I could think of as to “why I’d deserve” anything.
On the radio in the other room I could hear the DJ setting up the contest. “So… here we go! My wife, Suzie, has agreed to pick the winner, here. Now, Suzie… are there any requirements you’d like to put on these people — anything you’re looking for in particular with these stories?”
“Well, Scott… I just have to make sure the girl isn’t younger and prettier than me. And I want someone who will party in the aisles with me — get crazy!”
I stared at the phone and prepared to hang up. The fear made me absolutely certain I would. I knew from listening to the show that I was younger than the DJ and his wife… and I’m allergic to alcohol. When people say “party”, that’s typically what they mean and… I can’t drink.
But there it was… that little fire inside that somehow thrusts me forward. Before I knew it, I was listening to myself on the radio in the other room discussing a surgery I had that caused 34 food allergies with the DJ.
The DJ, his wife, my fiancé and I all had a wonderful dinner that evening. Then we went over to the theater, met Air Supply (who promptly told my fiancé that he looks like Jared Leto… “the Brokeback Mountain version, not the cross-dresser role he won the Oscar for”) and witnessed a fantastic show.
What’s more — the DJ seemed to so enjoy hanging out with my fiancé, that he gave us a second set of tickets to any show of his choice. We spent the next weekend at a concert I’d say was almost better than Air Supply ;), The Blue Oyster Cult. I didn’t know Blue Oyster was such a jam band — the talent of the guitarists had my jaw on the floor.
So, anyways — I write about this experience to inspire. If you want something, dream of something, love someone — get past that crippling fear you carry — beat out all those doubts and warnings in your head — and go confidently. You just never know what it may get you.