That is what my smart, beautiful, and down-right wonderful niece said to me this past weekend as we stood in line for her first adult roller coaster. She is 10 years old. She just barely made the height requirement for the larger coasters and the ones with loops and corkscrews. That is a good or bad thing depending on how you look at it, but I knew she would be safe with me as I flashed a pleading look toward the obviously bored ride attendants as they measured her. She was terrified, rightfully so, but she still got on.
I told her that if she felt like crying, just to scream instead because screaming on rides was 100% OK and that way she could let it all out faster. I promised that (even though would stand in line forever) before we knew it the ride would be over. Who can turn down permission to scream your head off? Turns out, she was a pro. She even worked up to keeping her eyes open and loved hanging upside down for the brief loops while going somewhere around 85mph. Having been a lover of roller coasters and frequent Six Flags Great Adventure ticket-holder in my youth, I was ridiculously proud.
In line for an even scarier ride there was a young girl pleading with her older sisters in front of us, “I don’t feel well! Don’t make me do this! I don’t want to go on this ride!” and they were mocking her in return, “Too late, you’re already this far in line, you’re just SCARED! Don’t be SCARED! Why are you so SCARED?!” We were both watching this, and I leaned down to my niece and whispered in her ear:
“Ya know what I think? I think that it’s OK to be scared. Some things in life are scary. But if you’re scared now, it means you are about to do something really brave…and there is nothing better than being brave!”
As the words were coming out of my mouth, I realized that I also needed to hear them. I have big dreams. I don’t dream small. If I want to make my own dreams come true I am certainly going to have to be brave. The thing is, I think sometimes we’re hard on ourselves for feeling fear. Note: If fear is causing you to stay in bed all day watching DVR’d HGTV shows and eating Tostitos with lime until your tongue goes raw, you should re-visit the idea of anti-anxiety meds before proceeding. However, if you have the kind of fear I do, the kind that exists simply to show you just how much you really want something, than you’re likely about to do something fabulously brave. And really, what’s better than being brave?