Years ago I was crazy about a boy, a boy who was crazy about someone else. Let's call this "someone else" The Girl with the Habanero Peach Hot Sauce. I call her this because, for whatever reason, one of the things that stands out in my mind the most after all these years was this little bottle of Habanero Peach Hot Sauce that she had given the boy from her travels. He loved the hot sauce just as he had the girl. Just like the hot sauce, the girl had a spicy and sweet personality, was somewhat exotic, and was not easy to obtain. In my eyes I was Franks Red Hot Sauce...or maybe even a generic, no-name brand pretending to be Franks. I was one note. I was boring, generic, and was always there.
I was mad at myself. Mad for allowing myself to become this generic cookie-cutter of a human, because of what? Fear? Yup, that's exactly what it was - fear. Too afraid of the outcome or to be in the thick of the scary moment, I would push aside opportunities, wants, desires, needs, and so much more all in the name of fear. Too afraid to be rejected, I didn't fight for the guy, I didn't go after the job, I didn't make the tough decisions, I didn't do...well, much of anything. That summer I said "fuck it!" to fear. "Fuck you, fear!" I yelled in the ravine that connected to my backyard! "Fuck you for ruling my life!" I wasn't going to let that happen anymore.
That summer I lived without fear. I put myself in positions I had never before been in. I had a summer fling with a stranger I thought was out of my league. I went to concerts with friends and acquaintances I rarely saw and some I hardly knew. I stayed up until the sun came up more than I can count. I spontaneously hopped a plane with a friend for a week of daiquiris and dancing. Hell, I even went skydiving! I kicked fear in the ass!
I was so proud of myself at the end of that summer. Proud of all that I had accomplished. Proud of the stories I had to tell. Proud of the chances I took and the strength with which I approached them. It wasn't about the boy at all. It wasn't about proving to him that I too could be Habanero Peach Hot Sauce. It was about proving to myself that I was those things. They were always there, all I had to do was lift the heavy weight of fear to unearth them.
It's been years and years now since that summer of saying "fuck you" to fear. I'm a different person now, in both good ways and bad. The good is that I've finally started to come into my own. I know who I am and what I'm not, and I'm not willing to sacrifice that for anything or anyone. I have a strong sense of self, that I wouldn't have been able to possess unless I had found myself in the gutter of fear. The bad? While I've changed in so many positive ways, there's always things to work on, and boy, have I got a lot of that. And that, in itself, is the bad.
After going through a summer of transformation like that, it's easy to be overly critical of yourself when you find yourself falling into old habits. That's where I was at the beginning of this Spring, hating myself. Mad at myself for once again allowing fear to control my life. I was unhappy with where I was and felt stuck. I took a big scary leap and quit my job to allow myself to face the fears that I had been building up in my head. I forced myself to practice my craft every day. I forced myself to reach out to the people I admire and ask for assistance. I forced myself to talk to the people that intimidate me. With the lens of self-doubt, it would be easy to look at this summer as a waste. I could have done more, I could have said more, I could have been more, but look at all the things I did do!
While I didn't make quite as much progress with my career as I had hoped (though I have to remember to still honour the development that I did make), I'm proud to say that I've come such a long way in terms of tackling my personal demons. I forced myself to own up to and work on the things that I didn't like about myself. I've started opening up to people about the anxiety that has plagued me since childhood. I've started seeing a therapist that will allow me to work through the things that I am so very ready to overcome. I forced myself to say "no more" to the people in my life who have continued to hurt me. I started exercising every day for my mind more than my body. I've looked deep within myself to understand what makes me happy and what fuels me, and also, what does the opposite. Though I know overcoming my fears will be a battle that I may have to work on for my entire life, each time I find myself in this cycle it feels a little easier. Because I've gone through this before it's so much easier to remember that yes, I do have Habanero Peach Hot Sauce within me, and it doesn't have to be so scary to let it out.
Check out Fo Reals Life's recipe for Habanero Peach Hot Sauce here!