August 7, 2013

Doing What Scares You

No fear in these kids.
I learned an awful lot at BlogHer.

I learned a lot about growing my platform, about pitching my book, and about finishing my book.

I learned a lot of other things, too. And not all of them were things I expected to take away from a blogging convention.

For example, conquering my fear.

The lunchtime keynote on the last day of BlogHer was Sheryl Sandburg, of facebook. Now, I have some problems with facebook. I have problems with their model of user-reported abuse monitoring, which first of all gets used for the purpose of petty bickering (such as when trolls flag things as inappropriate when they're utterly harmless), or hardly get used at all (such as the disastrous conditions leading to the #fbrape campaign). But I'm all for self-empowering talks and the advice of successful people.

Sheryl Sandburg encouraged everyone to identify the things that scared them, and then do them. And yes, I'm doing the things that I thought of at BlogHer. But I did something else, too.

This bad boy made me cry.
I rode a motherfucking Ferris Wheel.

Now, this may not seem like a big deal to some, but is a huge deal to me. And it wasn't just any little Ferris Wheel either, oh no.

It was THE Ferris Wheel.

...well, THE Ferris Wheel in Chicago, anyway. It's not even close to as big as the London Eye. But still, at 150 feet, it's pretty gigantic.

Let me tell you a little something about Ferris Wheels. They are secret killers. They are death traps.

Nevermind that there have only been a handful of Ferris Wheel related deaths in my entire lifetime, PEOPLE HAVE DIED BECAUSE OF THESE THINGS. I mean, how crazy do you have to be to go up in something like that, totally unprotected from the inevitable fall? Yes, it's inevitable. If you ride a Ferris Wheel, you will fall to your death.

It's going to happen.

Not worth the risk, obviously.

But as my family approached the monster, DD looked up at me with those big, beautiful eyes of hers and said, "Mama? Will you ride with me?"

And what could I say? "No, honey, your mother is mortally terrified of Ferris Wheels. The tamest, slowest, most peaceful ride ever invented. Call me when you're tall enough to ride the Demon Drop or the Superman coaster. I'm totally up for that. But if you ride this thing you're dead to me. Because you'll probably be dead."

Of course not. I nodded and squeezed her hand tightly enough to make her wince.

I kept hoping as we waited in line that there would be limits on how many people could ride. Our temporary teenager was with us, so there was an extra pseudo-adult handy. I could stay with the baby, and M could take the girls up, and it would be fine.

But no. No excuses.

We passed the checkpoint where it became clear I was getting on the thing. And then, because of "balance," they had to let a bunch of cars go by empty. This gave me time to think.

First of all, I thought that if "balance" was that delicate, we were all going to die. A few empty cars weren't going to save us.

Secondly, I thought that I was just going to cry. And I hated whoever put up the sign next to where we were standing to let us know that at a full seven minutes, it's the longest ride of its sort in the world.

Thirdly, I thought of Sheryl Sandburg. You know what, Sheryl? I am scared to fucking death of Ferris Wheels. And I'm going to get on this bitch and ride it to Hell.

I somehow managed to smile for our pre-boarding picture.

In my head I am screaming for help.
And then M lifted DD and SI on to the Ferris Wheel. And clutching RH to my chest as though she were a life preserver, I got on too.

The first ten seconds were okay. We were still basically on the ground.

But then we started going up. So slowly, you couldn't feel it happen. All you could feel was the horrifically perilous swinging, the gentle sway of the car as my husband and children proclaimed at all the sights which meant that at any minute we were going to die.

I squeezed RH as tight as I thought she could handle it, and I sobbed like a baby.

This is humiliating.
And I laughed, because M and our Temp Teenager were laughing at me, and they were right, it was ridiculous.

And I kept crying, because we kept going up.

For a solid three and a half minutes, I buried my face in my baby's back, and freaked my geek out.

And then I looked up, and we were at the top. The very top.

And you know what? The view was amazing. I could recognize that despite the renewed tears, of relief, that finally we were going to go down again.

Looks nice, right? But what happens when you zoom in at my face?

That's right. Tears. Tears behind the glasses. No lie.

And for the next three and a half minutes, I squeezed the baby and repeated, "It's almost over. It's almost over. It's almost over." while DD and SI tried to get me to look down at the boats in the harbor.

And then it was over, and I had to stand perfectly still on the ground and breathe slowly for a while before I could walk again.

But you know what? I did it. I did it without screaming, without begging, without ruining anyone else's good time.

And while I probably won't ever do it again, I feel like a boss for doing it once.

I might not have conquered my fear, but I did give it a good talking to.

Thanks, Sheryl.


  1. I saw that thing when I was there and thought NO WAY!

    Good for you for conquering your fear! xo

  2. Children have a way of making us face our fears. Well done you!



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