Kat, this prompt was tough. But, it was good. Really good. I hope I rose to the challenge and made you proud.
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You have come face to face with your biggest fear. What do you do? How do you handle it?
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Fear caught up with me again. I had tried to outrun it. But, it caught up with me.
I had been hiking through exciting, uncertain and unfamiliar terrain. The conditions were pretty amazing. I sometimes encountered rocky and steep terrains, but it was the most beautiful hike I had ever been on. Everywhere I turned, I found beauty: in the birds, in the trees and in the landscape. Each river I bravely crossed, I learned more about myself. Each step I took down that path, I allowed myself to love the journey more deeply. Each time I overcame an obstacle, I yearned to explore more. I hiked further down that path than any I had ever taken before. I had come closer than ever to what I wanted so deeply.
And then out of nowhere, I found myself face to face with one of my biggest fears -- a poisonous snake. It was right there. Out of nowhere I had snuck up on my biggest fear. My biggest fear, fear of failure, was right in the middle of my narrowed path. It was hissing at me and warning me to step back.
On one side of the path, there was a drop so steep I wouldn't survive if I slipped. On the other side of the path, there was a boulder that I couldn't climb without support. That snake had stopped me dead in my tracks. My only options of getting past it were to turn around and run back the way I came or to wait it out and hope it would eventually let me pass.
The snake and I looked at each other, eye to eye, waiting to see what the other would do. My normal pattern when faced with something I feared would have been to run back the other way as soon as I got the chance. To push it away. To outrun it. To try and escape it. To give up. To start over.
But, when our eye-to-eye contact was interrupted for a moment just long enough for me to escape thanks to a squirrel cracking a branch in the tree next to it, I didn't run. In that split second when the snake looked away at the squirrel, I made the decision to break that pattern and try something different because trying to outrun my fears up to that point in my life had never worked. So, I chose to wait it out instead of running away. I was tired of running. I had come so far this time and was done letting my biggest fear prevent me from moving forward. So, I backed away a bit, just enough to give it the space and time it needed to regain its composure. I would wait as long as it would take to overcome my fear.
So, while I sat there patiently watching the snake, something inside of me changed. Instead of the normal feelings of regret and shame that I experienced after running away in the past, I found compassion. Instead of being angry or hurt, I reconfirmed how beautiful, delicate and wonderful the path had been and how I knew without a doubt that it was worth it to remain patient to see if the snake would let me pass. I saw birds I had never seen before and listened a bit more closely to the songs they sang. I learned the names of trees that were unfamiliar. I saw beautiful shapes in the clouds above. I appreciated more deeply the striking colors in the wild flowers and plants in the landscape that surrounded me.
I realized that I was meant to take that path and that the snake was on my path for a reason.
I realized I had startled the snake with my own fear and that it meant no harm.
I realized that the snake needed to stop me dead in my tracks so that I could become stronger and more in tune with my surroundings so that I wouldn't be afraid to fail as I moved beyond it.
I realized I had embraced my fear.