Conquer Fear with 20 Seconds of Courage

Facing a new situation and/or meeting new people can be an experience filled with fear and anxiety, but sometimes all it takes is 20 seconds of courage to push through that initial feeling. Once you’re through, it dissipates. However, if you stay in that moment, it takes a lot longer to fade away on it’s own, and not only do you remain anxious, but you don’t accomplish the goal of navigating the new situation and/or meeting someone new.

A number of years ago, I was the President of the Cultural Development Association of my local community. For one particular fund-raiser, a local theatre company had donated their opening night’s proceeds to the organization. As the figurehead, it was my task to get up on stage and introduce the fund-raiser, welcome the attendees and thank the theatre company for their generous donation. After doing so, I returned to my seat, beside one of my fellow board members. She turned to me in her introverted awe and said, “I admire you so much, you are fearless!”

On the contrary! I will admit, extroverted personalities certainly accomplish tasks, like the one I’ve described above, with more natural ease than introverts, but make no mistake, we still experience the same fear and anxiety leading up to the event.

Think of a time when you were confronted with a new social situation or a room full of strangers. I don’t know about you, but in that moment, I feel like I’m my 8-year-old bashful self again, right back on the elementary school playground. Will the other kids like me? Will they think my clothes are cool? Will they make fun of my hair?

Many years ago, it occurred to me that I could remain in that fear and anxiety, or I could muster up the 20 seconds of courage to push through it. I pondered, “what would my 8-year-old self do?” Well, I’m pretty certain she would stand tall, take a few deep breaths, walk right up to those cool kids and say, “Hi! My name is Temple. What’s your name?” So, that’s literally what I do now, as an adult. Yes, I am the girl at the party, who will walk up to a stranger and announce, “Hi, I’m here all by myself, do you want to talk?” An innocent, straightforward, non-pretentious, childlike approach most folks find refreshing, in my experience.

Just the other day, I was at the gas station near my home and a shiny red Ferrari 458 Spider pulled up to the pump next to me. Without hesitating and remaining in the fear, I walked around the pump, mustered up my best Joey Tribbiani voice and said, “how you doin’?” The driver looked up at me, laughed and said, “I’m well, thanks.” I responded, “I was talking to the car!” He chuckled and said, “I get that a lot.” Anyway, we proceeded to have quite a lovely conversation, which is a moment we obviously would not have shared, otherwise. Incidentally, he was almost as impressive as the car! (And if he’s reading this right now, my # is…haha, just kidding, I think he’s married.)

20 seconds of courage! Try it next time, you just might be surprised at the result.

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