I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to speak at the Fearless Women’s Summit. This conference was brought to my attention by a couple friends and former colleagues. They figured I would be a good candidate speaking on the topic – fearlessness. Funny as I hadn’t really thought of myself that way but then I started to think back to past comments from people about how they admire my bravery and wish they could be as fearless as I am in regards to taking on new things or making bold decisions. It isn’t that I’m not afraid but possibly more that I look at fear for what it is.
In our modern culture of paranoia, negativism and worst-case scenarios it’s easy to get sucked into constant worry and anxiety. Luckily for me, as a child I was able to explore nature unsupervised with the freedom to run and play within a one or two mile radius from my home. In today’s times it would be considered dangerous or bad parenting but this upbringing taught me independence, common sense and navigation of the natural laws. Risk was always there when I was chopping down trees deep in the woods for my new fort or out in the middle of the lake on my make-shift raft (and no lifejacket) but it made life more exciting and adventurous. I could have ended up as a worst-case scenario many times but like my dad would casually say, “sometimes when your number is up, your number is up.” So I choose to live life to the fullest.
I was also an avid reader with my nose in a book every day until I was twelve years old. Reading provided me three things which still remain with me today: my sense of wonder and curiosity, a lively imagination and the belief that the world offers endless possibilities and outcomes.
Although my childhood wasn’t perfect by any means (my mom was a dish thrower and my dad liked his vodka), it did equip me in managing risk and fear. Things often look scarier in our heads, making them more daunting and worrisome, than they really are. BE CURIOUS about your fear, imagine and envision positive outcomes and explore possibilities!
I also possess somewhat of a split-personality, a genuine Gemini I suppose. One part of me is practical minded and the other would rather disregard the rules and just wing it. I just pull out whatever is needed at the time, make a decision and take action. There is no point waiting until I no longer feel afraid. It will never completely dissipate. Opportunities may be missed if one sits on his or her hands too long. My fear of missing out on something great usually trumps my self-doubt. Fear is also attached to the future, something that hasn’t even happened yet. No matter what comes at me I still have my hands on the steering wheel. I can veer left or right whenever I need to. Sure, sometimes I hit a pothole or two and am in need of a re-alignment but all in all things are still intact.
When it comes to my career, I know what I have to offer. I also want my work to be meaningful. I was just offered an opportunity that will stretch my abilities but it is exactly what I seek in regards to a challenge and purpose. The scary part is that I am leaving every single comfortable thing in my life. My new post for the next two years is on a remote island in northern British Columbia. I will be leading an Indigenous child and family services agency towards self-governance. They want to have the authority to manage their own child welfare and attaining this will be no small feat. My practical side tells me that this is what I am meant to do but leaving my husband and young adult sons behind is not conventional as a wife and mother. My rule-breaker side tells me that I am a trailblazer and I don’t like to be limited by societal expectations or rigid mindsets and rules. And yes, I was hell for my parents as a teenager.
As I pack for the next two years of my life (and book my husband’s flights to come visit me) I can feel the ebb and flow of fear in my belly trying to dissuade me. I smile because I know I will be thankful in the end for having the ability to wave at fear and say, “I hear what you are saying but I am going to give this a go anyway.” I have always adapted.
I will be speaking at another Fearless Women’s Summit in La Vegas in February. I am sure I will have more lessons to draw on to share with those who attend. Stay tuned!