How-to Hustle

Climbing a Mountain: How-to Use Fear To Your Advantage

Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night, shocked with a feeling of having fallen from a great height? Experiencing this intense rush of fear is something most people I’ve spoken to can empathize with this feeling. I especially. This effect was twice as irritating for me because I had an exceptional fear of heights. This fear would cause problems for me every so often, preventing me from enjoying a handful of different events.

Funny, how sometimes certain events that were frightening can clearly linger in your mind a decade later, while other memories from just a week ago are unexpectedly foggy. One such instance can be pulled from far back in my memory. Once when I was about nine or ten years old, my father had some business in Colorado so our family took it as an opportunity to take a short vacation.

The worst vacation

A near 15-hour drive, imagining our destination had me staggeringly curious, intensifying the natural anxiety that would usually manifest in me at times. As we cleared past the border of Nebraska, I immediately noticed the contrast in topography when crossing into mountainous territory. The visual appeal of a landscape with seemingly boundless scenery, coupled with the backdrop of huge, beautiful mountains was almost too much for me to appreciate as a child.

Once we found lodging after the long, exhausting trip, my mind finally had some time to recover from the overload of seeing so many new surroundings for the first time. A bed, crappy TV, and average size hotel room were nothing new to me. As I rested, I began to question what exactly it was we came to Colorado to do as a “vacation”. I was surprised with myself for not having considered the answer before. Anticipation of the long drive and awe from the sights must have totally diverted my attention. This curiosity pushed me to ask my father what the plan was. He turned to me and gave me an answer that no number of awesome sights could prepare me for–

“riding a trolley up to the top of Pike’s Peak”, he told me shockingly. 

My butt cheeks clenched, my breath shortened, and I had a not-so-brief moment of panic. Several times before, my family had gone on trips via airplane and every time I’d plead to stay home to avoid being faced with my most consistent fear at the time. Heights. For me, a trip on an airplane was much like a trip to the doctor for the average toddler. When I say I’d freak out, I mean it. Save shaking silently with my eyes shut fighting off the anxiety, I was completely paralyzed from take-off until landing. My father was well aware of this, but nobody thought to give me fair warning that we would be climbing to the peak of a damned mountain! Granted, now I see my fear was completely unwarranted because the tour would be completely guided and controlled, at the time this was the stuff of nightmares.

So up the mountain we went. There were no moments where my life was actually in danger, but my body language would definitely lead you to think otherwise. The higher we climbed, the more anxious I became. That is until we reached the peak, where 14,115 ft from the ground sat a gift shop at the center of the mound. Far and wide was a beautiful landscape, indescribable to my young mind. For a minute my subconscious surfaced, my attention was consumed and my fear replaced with awe. Of course, I eventually snapped out of it, allowing negative feelings to regain control of my perspective. There is more to the story, but that excerpt is the only reference you need to understand my main point.

Fear has positive uses

Many people will refrain from acting on their opportunity to make the best of their circumstances. Allowing negativity to seethe and fester, wresting their opportunity to enjoy life in the moment and poisoning their perspective. Rather than focusing on the negative and frightening aspects of your situation, use the opportunity to appreciate the value in how far you’ve made it and the opportunity that exists within your surroundings. I’m rapidly acquiring a strong interest in seeing all of what being on the road has to offer. Some aspects of travel frighten me, but I won’t allow any fears or doubt to interfere with the daily opportunity I have to appreciate the life I am living.

I’m rapidly acquiring a strong interest in seeing all of what being on the road has to offer. Some aspects of travel frighten me, but I won’t allow any fears or doubt to interfere with the daily opportunity I have to appreciate the life I am living. If we face some of our fears every day, some day we may be able to truthfully claim that we’ve seen it all.

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