Feel the fear, do it anyway

Feel the fear and do it anyways.

That was the cheesy saying on my car air freshener that I just bought from a lovely shop in Peachland: Feel the fear and do it anyways.

I loved it.

I was drawn to this elaborately decorated, highly scented piece of cardboard on a bouncy string. I have learned not to question my gut feelings too much – so I bought it and hung it up immediately.

Little did I know that within 24 hours I would be repeating that saying in my mind to get me through a nerve-wracking situation.

I recently joined the Okanagan Swim Masters Club. I’ve been swimming twice a week for about two months. Naturally, I considered myself ready to participate in the Across the Lake Swim — Rattlesnake Island. It’s a seven-kilometre journey from Peachland around Rattlesnake Island and back again.

You know that feeling of nervousness before a big event; you feel jumpy, distracted and tense. I was all those things before the start whistle sounded.

I had never swum in an open-water event.

I bought my wetsuit the week before from my friends at Fresh Air Experience along with a shiny new Swim Buddy (floatation device), unwrapped the evening before the big swim.

I was nervous, but mindset is everything. As Henry Ford said “Whether you think you can, or think you can’t, you’re right.”

I always try to take the mindset of ‘I Can.’

I was about to experience a true test of that belief.

The whistle blew and off we all went. Thirty swimmers, each with a support paddler, so there were also 30 kayakers. All I could see around me was feet and hands and paddles… It took my breath away. Literally. I couldn’t breath.

Fewer than 100 metres into a 7,000-metre swim and I was going to call it off. My arms and legs felt like jelly, my heart was racing, and I couldn’t put my face in the water to do a proper stroke because I couldn’t catch my breath.

Swimmers anxiety is something I had heard about but never experienced. I thought I was mentally tough enough to be past that, but I wasn’t.

I was terrified.

As I was looking for my husband in a kayak to come pull me out of the water, the image of my car freshener flashed in my mind.

Feel the fear and do it anyways

Feel the fear and do it anyways….

I said it a few times to myself and tried to calm down.

I told myself to just go one kilometre.

I managed to find a rhythm of breathing after every stroke (the correct way is three strokes or more per breath). After I guessed a kilometre had passed, I repeated the phrase and I kept going.

The swimmers and boats had spread out, so the claustrophobic feelings were gone.

I kept going.

By the time I reached Rattlesnake Island, the fear had completely passed. I was back to proper strokes and made it back to Peachland in two hours and 39 minuets.

Feel the fear and do it anyways.

That phrase got me through the event.

At first, I was critical of myself for feeling afraid — It’s just swimming in a lake. What is so hard about that?

But everyone experiences fear and anxiety in different ways and at different times. There is nothing wrong with that – the only thing that matters is pushing on despite the fear.

Growth happens when push ourselves past our boundaries. Don’t limit yourself by giving in to the fear – and don’t judge others who are dealing with that fear.

Keep going, keep pushing yourself to new heights.

Feel the fear and do it anyways.   


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About the Author

Like most people, Christy has taken many paths. On the officially documented life list, she is a certified yoga teacher, an advanced open water diver, a financial adviser, a Harley rider and owner, an author, a community advocate.

She has been trained in coaching, negotiations and communication studies. She competed at a provincial level in competitive swimming and now has a passion for overall fitness.

On the un-documented list, Christy’s diverse experience is both positive and full of pot holes. She is the founder and CEO of a start-up company that never made it past the start-up phase. She has enough tattoos to classify as a walking adult colouring book. 

She has gone through all the identity phases at different times in her life: hippie, gothic, classy professional, biker... and is now a unique blend of them all. She a spiritual junkie and is addicted to adrenalin, learning and travel.

The bottom line: She is full of love and lessons with a hope that those who read this and connect with her will benefit from what she learned and be inspired to reach for the limitless possibilities of life.

Connect with her at:[email protected]

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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