Do It Scared


Do It Scared

“I’m just really overwhelmed,” I typed into my phone, the haptics of my tapping thumbs at odds with the pounding in my chest. In text form, I didn’t know how to convey the magnitude of my emotions in the moment, but these words definitely felt insufficient. “I’m excited but nervous,” I went on, “I’ve never done this before!”

The friend on the other side of my messages is not my closest friend, not the one I’ve known the longest, not even someone with whom I interact very frequently, but this was one area I knew I could trust her. And I’ll never forget her next words to me:

“Do it scared!”

Heeding Jennie’s advice, at 38-years-old, I did something I have never done before in my whole entire life: I flew across the world all by myself. 

Actually, I’ve traveled quite a bit, but almost all of it was with my family growing up, plus some trips with church groups during our years as youth pastors. In fact, until last year, I’ve never actually made my own travel arrangements because I was always with a group; my dad even booked my honeymoon because we used his airline miles and timeshare points! Last fall, we finally worked up the guts (and the money) to take our family of six to Colorado. It was an amazing trip, but I knew it would be a while before we saved enough for another big one like that.

Fast-forward a few months, and I learned my brother – who has lived in London, England, for eight years – was planning to move back to the States, I knew I had to visit before it was too late. But when? My daughter had a summer job, my sons had sports, where would we get the money? Where would we even stay with all of us? There was just no way to get our family there in time. But what if it was just one ticket…?

“Do it scared!”

I had never traveled anywhere by myself – for years I couldn’t even go to the bathroom alone! – much less to another country. Every tiny detail of this trip felt like cause for panic, and Jennie’s word’s became my mantra. So many times the stress started to get to me, and I would take a deep breath and whisper, do it scared. We had drama with kids, my passport was delayed until the eleventh hour, and my husband even lost his job the week of my trip! It felt like a disaster in the making, but that voice kept breathing in my heart, do it scared. 

The ticket was already bought, the arrangements already made, so right in the middle of whirlwind that was happening at home, I packed my bags, kissed my family, and boarded a plane all by my lonesome. And do you know what?

It was incredible. 

My flights were seamless. The layovers were actually relaxing. The view from 40,000 feet was spectacular. I read my books and watched some movies and slept with my lawn mowing headphones on. And when I got to Heathrow, I hugged my brother and sister-in-love.

I did it scared.

We rode the Underground, the Overground, and red double decker buses, and we still walked 20 miles a day. I said yes to everything they suggested, and I never worried about bedtimes or what someone else would eat or if a kid was just tired enough to sleep well or so tired he would be cranky. I literally wore holes in my shoes, so I found my way to a mall and bought new ones with no one’s opinion but my own. I got yelled at by a neighbor while letting out my brother’s dog, misunderstood British slang and ordered the wrong food but ate it anyway, and I almost panicked when I got lost in a crowd, but then I didn’t.

I did it scared.

My long weekend in London was absolutely dreamy, and that motto served me so well I plan to integrate it into my life from now on. My son is trying out to be a starter on his football team? Do it scared. My daughter is considering auditioning for the school play? Do it scared. My husband is not just “looking for a job” but reinventing his career? Do it scared. And as for me? I’m going to therapy, facing my traumas, making new friends, embracing discomfort. I may have to do it scared, but I’m doing it.

It turns out I’ve had more practice at this than I initially thought: 

  • When my first pregnancy was nearing 42 weeks and complications took induction off the table, the doctor told 22-year-old me that I would have a C-section the next morning, and you know what? I did it scared. 
  • When I was expecting my third child and did the math to pay for daycare, it made more financial sense for me to stay home. But that was not my plan! How could I suddenly become a stay-at-home mom with three kids ages three and under? I did it scared.
  • When my babies have been sick, injured, received diagnoses, etc. I looked around for a grown-up to handle the situation, and apparently that grown-up was me! When we become parents, we don’t always know exactly what to do or how things will turn out, but what do we do? We do it scared.

Pretty much everything about parenting is scary when you think about it, but we keep showing up and doing the work for our kids every day. Though it often feels overwhelming, we can be encouraged knowing that these tough situations are just different flavors of the same things we face every day as parents. You endured all those hours of labor and brought a human being into the world? You can do things scared. You handled that diaper blowout in the middle of Target while your toddler was having a meltdown and everyone survived? You can do things scared. You held your child’s hand during her IV, paced around the waiting room, and memorized the post-op care instructions to help your kiddo after surgery? You can do things scared. You advocated for your child’s education with teacher conferences and endless e-mails and S-Team meetings until you felt heard? You can do things scared.

Friend, when you are nervous about the challenges that life brings your way, remember the last message Jennie sent me: “You are more capable than you know! I think that’s the case for most of us.”

Author’s note: My hope for this post is to offer a little encouragement and inspiration to moms and dads everywhere who feel overwhelmed by the little things to push through that fear and believe in themselves. However, for many of our readers, anxiety and panic disorders are a very real challenge, and the healthy stress that motivates others can easily become unhealthy and harmful for those individuals. Please do not feel like a failure that you cannot “push through” that feeling or feel ashamed to ask for help. Your mental health is your health, and it is deserving of attention and care! Talk to your doctor, connect with mental health resources (here’s a good one), or dial 988 from anywhere in Tennessee to  reach a crisis helpline. Don’t let some stranger on the internet make you think you have to ignore your body and be scared all the time. You are worthy of wellness, friend. Take care.



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