OK, so I lied – my 5 part series about my Japanese journey actually has a bonus 6th part. But I promise I won’t lie again. What? You think that’s lie, too? How dare you! Why, I would never lie about not lying again. Who do you think I am? Don’t say, “a liar,” please. “Stupidly handsome,” “Totally rad,” and “Crazy fearless” are all acceptable, though. Particularly “crazy fearless” since that ties nicely into the theme of this blog: overcoming your fears.
Fear is something we all deal with. It’s what makes us human. If we had no fear, we’d all just be a bunch of robots. Nothing wrong with being a robot, mind you – I love robots! But robots don’t get to feel the rewarding rush we get when we overcome our fears. Hah, take that, robots! Hmm… But, then again, robots also don’t grow old and die. Ugh. I guess robots win. Damn you, robots!
So why does fear matter? Because it acts as life’s checkpoints. It keeps us in check until we’re ready to blaze forward and take on new challenges. Then, once we build up enough experience and courage, we can go back and kick fear’s ass. And with each new fear’s ass we kick, we become stronger and more confident, to the point where we’re fearless ass-kickers. You hear that, fear? We’re not afraid of you! Fear our feet. Because they’re coming. Straight for your ass.
Over the past 6 or so years, I’ve seen some significant changes in my confidence after every new fear I’ve conquered. So I thought I’d list them out in chronological order so you can see how each one shaped me. Let’s begin!
Fear: Getting a tattoo
I always knew I wanted to get a tattoo. But I didn’t want something small. No, I wanted something big. Something bold. Something colorful. Something… childish? Yep, for my first tattoo, I got a full sleeve featuring the General Mills’s monster cereal mascots (Boo Berry, Frankenberry, Count Chocula, Yummy Mummy, and Fruit Brute). For most people, the idea of getting cereal characters permanently etched on their arm is probably terrifying. But for me? I embraced it.
I was more concerned about the pain. What if it hurt too much and I couldn’t last a full session? Or what if I moved my arm in pain and screwed up the tattoo? That’d suck. Keep in mind, I didn’t get a small tattoo as a warm up or anything. I went straight for a sleeve. I committed myself, so I figured I had to do it. And I did. With minimal pain. Seriously! I vividly remember when my artist starting on my wrist and my first thought was, “Uh, that’s it?” Did it hurt? Um, yeah – she was sticking a needle in my arm. But was it excruciating? Nah.
So how would I describe it? Like someone taking a hot needle and then scratching my arm over and over. Sounds fun, right? Not gonna lie – it kinda was. I got kinda addicted to it, to the point where I’d look forward to each session. The pain was welcoming. And, in some ways, comforting. It’s hard to describe. But it made me realize my pain tolerance was much higher than I originally thought.
Fear Overcome: Pain
- Pain is nothing to fear.
- Don’t be afraid to be yourself, even if it means getting cereal characters permanently etched on your arm.
- Commitment shows character.
Fear: Riding an inverted roller coaster
You should know by now I love theme parks. Hell, in one of my previous blogs, I talked about how I traveled around the world specifically to visit different parks. But here’s something you may not know: I was deathly afraid to ride inverted roller coasters until only a few years ago. Why? Because I thought I’d fall out of my seat. Yeah, I know – it was a stupid fear. But most fears are.
I later learned it wasn’t so much I was afraid of falling to my death, but more the fear of the unknown. My fear stemmed from not knowing what it’d feel like to go upside down. That’s it. Once I actually went upside down (and survived), I finally knew what it felt like. And y’know what? It was sooooo fun! Now I love inverted roller coasters. In fact, last year, I rode The Smiler at Alton Towers in the UK. The Smiler is well-known for 2 reasons:
- It has the most inversions of any roller coaster in the world (14).
- In 2015, a horrific accident caused some riders to get their legs amputated.
BTW: I knew about the accident before I rode it. I didn’t care. Because, again, I wasn’t going to let the fear of losing my legs keep me from screaming, “Wheeee!” 14 times upside down. I made the right decision, too – that ride was totally worth losing my legs over. Or not. Yeah, not. I actually like my legs. Especially when they’re attached to my body. But was The Smiler fun? Hell to the yeah.
Fear Overcome: Riding an inverted roller coaster
- Don’t let the fear of the unknown stop you from having fun, even if it means (possibly) losing your legs.
- Facing your fears is crazy rewarding.
- Experiencing high thrills is a good reminder that it’s pretty good to be alive.
Fear: Solo foreign travel
Visiting a foreign country is pretty damn exciting. New culture, new food, and (sometimes) a new language. It can also be pretty damn scary if you don’t know where you’re going or how to adapt without looking like a clueless tourists (my specialty!). That’s why most people choose to travel abroad with friends, family, or significant others. Makes sense, right? It’s way more comforting to have other people going through the same situation as you.
Example: You see your friend bite into what looks like a regular steamed pork bun in Shanghai only to discover it’s actually a soup dumpling after he bites down and you watch the scalding hot broth inside shoot out all over him. Then you laugh and think, “What a dork, that’d never happen to me!” Well, that dork was me. And I had no friends to warn nor laugh at me. Instead, I just laughed at myself (I didn’t call myself a dork, however, mostly because that was self-apparent). And it was awesome!
I have so many fun memories like that one above, all alone. But getting myself to be OK and comfortable traveling alone was really, really hard (as evidenced by the 2nd part of my 5 part series). I was scared of not only adapting to new countries alone and without help, but also the idea of not being able to share these silly memories with others. Which, if you think about it, is really selfish… To me. Why deny myself the opportunity see exciting new things because I don’t have anyone to share the experience with? That’s just… Sad.
Thankfully, I realized I was nuts to think this. Now I both love and prefer to travel alone. There’s something refreshing and cathartic about setting your own schedule, doing what you want to do, and soaking in all the experiences just for yourself. Does that mean I’ll never travel with anybody again? Of course not. It just means I won’t deny myself the pleasure of going somewhere if I’m unable to find folks to go with me. Plus 1 for solo shenanigans!
Fear Overcome: Isolation in a foreign country
- It’s perfectly OK to enjoy a new country by yourself, even if the locales think you’re a total dork when you squirt soup broth everywhere after stupidly biting into what you thought was a normal pork bun.
- I can get by and navigate numerous foreign countries with little-to-no help nor knowledge of the local language.
- Never deny yourself from doing something because you think you need to experience it with others in order to have fun.
Fear: Getting LASIK done
I always thought of LASIK as a plot concocted by a benevolent Bond villain. Think about it: A doctor straps you into a chair, shoots lasers into your eyeballs, and then you magically get up with the ability to see without the need of corrective lenses. Say whaaaa? How is that even possible? I recently got LASIK and I still don’t even know. Something about flaps… And corneas… Ah, who cares – I don’t have to wear glasses/contacts ever again. You can burn my eyeballs with a magical, vision-correcting laser whenever you want.
Of course, I’m saying this now post-procedure, but I’m not gonna lie – I was totally terrified to get it done. For years! I used to have godawful vision in each eye (-8.0/-8.5). Don’t know what that means? Well, let’s just say I was almost blind enough to quality for free contacts. This means, if the zombie apocalypse hit, and I somehow lost my contacts/glasses, my one and only use to the remaining survivors of the human race would be this: zombie bait.
Despite knowing this, I always put off getting LASIK done because the thought of getting LASERS shot into my EYEBALLS wasn’t too appealing. It wasn’t until I made the decision to move to Japan that I realized I should wrap up any medical needs I have before I go. That’s when the topic of LASIK came up at work. Turns out one of my co-workers recently got it done, and she told me that Facebook gives a generous $2k rebate for LASIK. Damn! No joke – once I learned that, I immediately called up my eye doctor for a LASIK recommendation. Within a month, I got the procedure done. I kid you not. That’s how fast I moved on this despite putting it off for years.
B-b-but… How, you ask? Well, I asked myself this:
Why exactly am I scared again?
Y’know, besides the whole laser-in-the-eyeball part. ‘Cause that part is pretty scary. But if you think about it, every day thousands of people get LASIK done. And how many of those people walk away with the ability to shoot LASERS from their eyes? NOT ENOUGH if you ask me. But seriously – how many people end up with serious problems afterwards? Probably a very, very small amount. So I figured, I could continue to be a little baby and avoid it, or I could take advantage of the opportunity to get it done for cheap and never have to worry about corrective lenses again. Needless to say, I made the right decision.
Oh, and in case you’re wondering, yes, it HURT LIKE ALL HELL! OMG!! LASERS IN YOUR EYES!! AHHHH!!!
Just kidding – lol! I’m so not joking when I say this, but I felt nothing. Seriously. It was one of the easiest and painless procedures I’ve ever done. So much so, I actually went out and got boba the same night I got the procedure done. That’s how quickly I healed.
Still, I will say, there was one weird part: the flap crap. I say “flap crap” because I still have zero clue what they did, but I know they cut a flap or something in my cornea. So, in order do that, they had to literally move my eye socket around in my head to get it ready for the laser. And they did this by, uh, I’m not sure how, actually! All I remember was they put this thingy on my eye and then I felt the doctor literally try to JAM IT straight into my socket. That part was really, really weird. Did it hurt? Nah (they doused me with like 8 gallons of numbing drops on my eyes before the procedure). But, man, it was it weird.
Then came the actual laser part. So get this: For years, I feared this part the most, but I ended up liking it the best. Solely because you can SMELL your eyes burn while they’re getting their laser on. And the BEST part? It smelled DELICIOUS. I’m not joking. I got so hungry in those few seconds when they were literally shooting lasers into my eyeballs. They should make a scorched eyeball-scented cologne. I’d wear it!
OK, so I’m not probably not selling LASIK to anyone out there who may be considering it. But I will say this: I promise you won’t regret getting it done. Don’t be afraid! You may even wanna eat your fried eyeballs, too (yum!).
Fear Overcome: Lasers in the eyeballs
- Trust professionals know what they’re doing. Because if they don’t, you can always sue!
- Put your health before fear. Your body, mind, and wallet will thank you.
- If possible, eat before a major procedure, otherwise you may end up with cannibal tendencies.
So I was going to end this entry with a write-up about starting my own business in Japan, but since I haven’t technically started that yet (but I will start veerrrrry soon!), I figured I’ll save that for another day. But I will say that if it weren’t for overcoming all the fears in the this blog, I don’t think, no, I know, I would have never taken the risk. Overcoming your fears is addicting. And all too rewarding. The more fears you overcome, the more unstoppable you become. So with that said… Riddle me this:
What’s something you REALLY want to do, but have never done because you were too afriad?
Think of something? OK, now do me a favor… Think of a way to do that thing before the year ends. Trust me. You’ll thank yourself.