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Fake Fear and the Fight for Experience

Posted by on April 18, 2012

I have been terrified of things for most of my life.   And by things, really, I mean a lot of things.

Public speaking, Financial Reporting, Traveling, Love,  Death, Driving in a car with someone who clearly shouldn’t be driving, Sketchy Chinese Restaurants, Mexico,  Religious People,  Surfing,  Sting Rays, JellyFish,  Drowning, Growing a Business, Starting a business, eating new foods, taking a bus in Mexico, SkyDiving, Writing.

I really could flesh out the above list for the rest of the week and still not be done.  The more I think we know about the world, (or *think* we know) the easier it is to be scared of it.;  Though I think that’s a reasonable reaction to knowledge, I must say, I don’t find it acceptable to give into the fear.

Because out of all the things I’ve ever been afraid of, none of them have ever proven to be as bad as they were in my mind. Most of them, never even existed in the first place.

A perfect example that I am dealing with currently is Mexico.

Right now, I am living in the beautiful down of La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, Nayarit, Mexico.  In February I learned that I had the opportunity to rent a beautiful two-bedroom condo overlooking Banderas Bay, roughly 30min from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, for a crazy low price.  And my first thought went directly to all of the fearful, chicken little articles about Mexico that have populated the newspapers and websites over the past few years.

  • Drug Cartels
  • Murders
  • Widespread Violence
  • Blah Blahgiddity Blah

Luckily, since I rarely take news at face value anyways, I decided to dig a little deeper into the issue.  I approached a friend of mine, Sean, who is the person responsible for finding me this amazing condo since he has lived in this building with his girlfriend for the past two years.   I asked Sean to give me his impression of the violence and safety in La Cruz, and if I would be okay staying for a couple months.

He basically laughed me off the phone.

Then, he and his girlfriend, Carla, proceeded to leave me fake voicemails making fun of me for thinking that I might get killed in Mexico.   So this, combined with my larger fear of actually having to spend the rest of this year in Ontario, easily superseded any fear I had and now here I am in Mexico.

But it’s funny, I have been here for nearly a month and still that imaginary fear is still lingering; enough that only today did I have the balls to take the bus home from another town.

Over the past three weeks I have been laughed at by nearly a dozen people, who Sean has enjoyed telling about my fear of Mexico.
This never ceases to get a laugh. Even today at my first Salsa lesson (which was amazing!), I told my instructor how I was a little scared to take the bus back home, and again… heavy laughter.

sunrise in Nayarit Mexico

Sunrise in Nayarit (from my Balcony) - Scary huh?!

This is one of the main reasons I have cut down about 95% of my news intake, and I am a much happier, productive person for it.

CNN, Huff Post, Fox News, Toronto Star, and your local newspaper, simply don’t have anything else to write about, and fear sells.  We are evolutionarily hard wired to seek out danger, so we know what to avoid to survive,  but learning about a small plane crash in Colombia shouldn’t affect my thoughts about a flight from Toronto to Calgary, but for a lot of people it does.

We focus our fears on such improbable events, like plane crashes, shark attacks, drug violence in Mexico, and yet we don’t think twice about excessive alcohol consumption, smoking, texting while driving, or eating a double cheeseburger with bacon.

All of the things I just mentioned are much more likely to seriously impact our quality of life, our longevity, and not to mention our mental health. Because our irrational fears are constantly feed a steady stream of hypey bullshit from anyone with a keyboard and a broadcast license.

These people are doing nothing more than getting in the way of us doing the things we want in life. They stop us from turning the monotony of our lives, into a non-stop adventure.

Recently I’ve found that surrounding yourself with people that help you fight the fear and feed the adventure is one of the most important steps we can take in our lives (I will cover this more in a future post).   Because there are plenty of chicken littles out there that will tell you how unsafe Mexico is, that your business idea is flawed, or maybe even that life cannot be enjoyed without drugs and alcohol (arguably the same thing).

These people are dangerous and personally I think should be kept at arm’s length. We only get to live one life.   It is incredibly short, and yet full of possibilities.  We need to be surrounded with people that challenge our inner fraidy cat, and force us outside of our comfort zone (typically defined as the city we grew up in) and into a life of adventure that we can be proud to have lived when all is said and done.

And don’t get me wrong, this does not only include travel and risk taking. This could include major life decisions, like quitting a job you hate to chase a dream, or ending a marriage/relationship for the hope of a finding a better mate.  Fear stops us from doing all of these things.

For this moment in my life, I have two people to thank for pushing me into my trip to Mexico. My buddies Joseph, Alex, and my new friend Sean.  Without them, I’m honestly not sure if I would have taken the next step to make this experience a reality.

“Thank you”,  just doesn’t seem like enough.

And now here I sit, in what has seems like paradise so far, thankful that I was able to make this dream a reality.  From here, who knows where I’ll go, but I am learning more and more, that if it scares me, 9/10 it’s worth pursuing.

With this being said, you’ll never guess what I have planned for myself in California at the beginning of June.

But I will give you a little hint…


skydiving in the city of Angels

I Will Be Petrified Until My Feet Safely Touch The Ground

What are you fearful of doing and what is holding you back from it?

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