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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Facing the Fear

Ojai bike trail

I want to dedicate this post to a non-fashion topic. Although this is a fashion blog, there is something else that I love just as much (and that I spend a lot of time doing) and that's cycling. I spend several hours per week on the scenic bike trail pictured above, and have been doing do for almost two years. In that time, I've probably pedaled over a thousand miles.

On today's bike ride I spotted two lizards and one squirrel. The week before last, I spotted one alpaca, one cottontail rabbit, and several lizards. The trail and surrounding scenery, pictured here on Sarah's blog, passes through some remote and beautiful landscape. So it's not unusual to see a variety of wildlife while biking. There's always been a lingering anxiety in my mind that one day I might spot a particular species of animal that I've always disliked. Last Monday that anxiety became a reality. As I was just beginning to warm up, I rode past a chemical processing plant and noticed something small on the trail. (Having skinny tires, it's become second nature to scan the trail or road for potential nails, rocks, tree branches, and hazards.)

That particular morning, I observed something a few feet ahead and to my left that appeared to be a shoelace, but upon closer inspection, it turned out to be what I feared most - a yellow and black snake. I gulped, swerved slightly around it (as it was skinny and less than a foot long), and then my fight or flight response kicked in. I immediately broke out in a cold sweat, became slightly nauseated, and began to pedal faster. You see, snakes disgust me and are the last thing I'd want to see, whether in person, on my computer screen, behind the glass of an aquarium at a zoo, etc.

Ever since last Monday, I've been dreading getting back on the same trail for obvious reasons. Despite thinking about the many logical reasons for not harboring this fear, I couldn't bring myself to be enthusiastic about riding that same stretch of the trail. So I rode on other trails and streets where I knew I would not see snakes until this morning, when I decided that I love biking more than I dislike snakes. So I faced my fear by getting back on the trail, and kept repeating to myself that I'd be ok, and you know what? I was.

I wanted to share this story because I think people can relate to facing their fears, whether it's giving a speech in front of a group of people, getting on a plane for the first time, driving on the freeway, climbing a mountain, etc. Just be confident and tell yourself that you can do it, and if you repeat this mantra over and over to yourself, you'll believe it.