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Sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage

Near the end of December, after Christmas is over, I usually find myself thinking about the year that is about to end. I find myself dwelling on mistakes I made, and things I wish were different. On December 31st,  like many others I promise myself that I will change in the New Year.  I will eat less chocolate and more vegetables. I will finally lose the ten pounds that I have been trying to get rid of. I will spend more time exercising and less time watching TV or reading books. I’ll learn how to straighten up after myself and I will keep my car clean for more than just a day or two.

I realize that none of my “resolutions” are really possible. I am a chocolate addict, and my love of candy will always be victorious over my desire to shed a few pounds. I only enjoy exercise when I am on the back of my horse and I really don’t have any desire to go to a gym and make myself miserable for an hour every day. And, if I haven’t figured out how to keep my car clean by now, I probably never will.  I accept that they are all a part of who I am and, really, honestly, don’t need to be changed. Nobody is perfect.

So what resolution did I make this year?  A very simple one: I want to be able to conquer my fears. I want to be strong enough to face the things that I am afraid of.

Everybody experiences fear to some degree, but that emotion can be crippling when we allow it control our lives.  I’ve always been afraid to take the next step forward. My fear has caused me to have many regrets throughout my life. It has been what kept me from jumping the 4-foot jumps with my horse, even though I know that he could easily clear those hurdles.

Fear is a funny thing though. It can seem like a terrible monster that you have no hope of defeating but once you conquer it, you realize that the monster was only a magnified shadow of a small animal. In November, I was determined to clear the high jump with my horse. As I cantered towards the obstacle, my stomach was in knots. The jump looked so solid, and it seemed to scale the skies. My horse had become excited when he saw the new challenge, and his confidence strengthened my determination. We cleared the fence and as soon as I landed on the other side, I immediately realized that this particular jump was no different than any of the others. It might have been a few inches higher, but my horse jumped easily and I had no trouble staying with him through the air. The fence even looked smaller when I walked past it at the end of the day. It seemed to have deflated once I realized it could no longer intimidate me.

This victory over one fear is what made me decide to make this resolution. In 2013, I want to be able to look fear in the eye and defeat it. I want to be able to master the things that I am afraid of, and I want to finally be able to move forward in my life. I know that it won’t be easy. Fear is a stubborn emotion and I’ll never be fully rid of it, but I can slowly loosen the hold that it has on me.

A quote from Matt Damon’s movie We Bought a Zoo says it all: “Sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery, and I promise you something great will come of it.” This is my motto for 2013, and every year that follows. Tomorrow I start my new internship at A Woman’s Place (AWP),  one step forward, wish me luck!

Stephanie Donohue
AWP Intern

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