Becoming fearless — or just less of a scaredy cat

Long story short: I used to hate roller coasters. I hated them because I was scared of them. I never rode them. I never rode them even at Disneyland (and I love Disneyland). But, now I do ride roller coasters. And, I like them.

Another long story short: I used to hate blood and needles. I’d never cry or pass out when I had to get my blood drawn, but I really would want to. I still always tell the nurse/phlebotomist/technician that I hate getting shots before they stick me. Now, (supposedly) I am going to be the one that will be doing the sticking. I am licensed by the state to draw blood from real humans and am currently taking a four-week course to master it …

Now, read on for the long stories:

******

Everyone has fears.

Heights. Crocodiles. Spiders. Open water. Flying in planes. Driving on freeways. Birds. Small spaces. Germs. And so on. You get the idea.

Growing up, I was scared of roller coasters. The first one I ever went on was as a naive fifth grader at the Puyallup Fair. It was one of those big rickety ones. I sat next to my dad and distinctly remember being nervous as the teenage worker put the handlebar down across our laps. But, since I had also never been on a roller coaster before, I was a little excited.

That thing was as scary as I imagined it to be! I felt like I was going to fly out of the seat. I felt my stomach turn with every up and down motion. When we exited, I told my dad that that would be my first and last roller coaster ever.

Now, I didn’t have a liking for roller coasters, but I did — and still do — love Disneyland. I would go on all the rides except for the roller coasters. The teacups were my favorite.

Then, one summer day in middle school, I was coaxed to go on Thunder Mountain Rail Road. It’s one of the roller coasters that looks like a train going through mountains. My friend, Marina, assured me that it was the “tamest” roller coaster at Disneyland.

And, it was.

I loved it.

You just kind of zipped through those “mountains” and it didn’t give me that awful knot-in-the-stomach feeling like my first roller coaster experience at the fair did.

From that day on, every time I went to Disneyland, I made sure to ride Thunder Mountain numerous times.

But, the rest of the roller coasters were off limits. Those ones would definitely be too scary.

Then, one summer day in 2010, I was coaxed (as a 23-year-old) to ride California Screamin’ at California Adventure (the other amusement park right next to Disneyland). All my cousins were going on it including the littlest one, Ella. At the time, Ella must have been six or seven? (I have no idea, I am guessing, but think quite young). My aunt told me that if Ella could ride it — I’m pretty sure she just barely passed the height requirement — then I could do it too.

I was scared out of my mind. I thought I was going to pee my pants.

This is the roller coaster with the loop-de-loop! You go upside down on this one! 

The entire ride I clenched to the handle bars as I screamed my heart and brains out. I also had my eyes closed the entire time.

But, when we got off the ride, I thought, “Huh, that was kind of fun.” And, my cousins and I rode it again. And, the second time I screamed by heart and brains out but I kept my eyes open (most of the time).

What’s holding you back from doing things that scare you? Is it just the thought of it? Because, how would you know it’s scary if you do not try?

I’ve always hated needles (as mentioned above). I’ve gotten used to the sight of blood since part of my job description is to process blood. And now, I’m learning to be OK with the thought of eventually drawing blood.

Am I scared? Heck yes. Am I nervous? YES!

But, the least I can do is give it a try. (And, I guess it’s easier to give it a try when it’s a requirement for my job).

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