This past weekend, Brad, my husband, and I were out camping in the very remote northeast corner of Oregon. It was so remote, in fact, that we only saw 10 cars go past on the road the entire day, and even that seemed like a major traffic jam. We had gone hiking one of the days that we were there, and had just returned back to camp only to hear a low rumble growing on the horizon. It grew louder, menacing, like a monster gathering strength.
Sure enough, it was clear that a thunderstorm was on its way, so we battened down the hatches and got inside the tent. First came the rain, then the wind, and all of a sudden, the storm was right over us.
I don’t know if you’ve ever been caught out in a lightning storm before in a tent, but this situation exactly doesn’t fall under anything that I would highly recommend.
It was one of the single most terrifying experiences I’ve ever had.
The air crackled with electricity and just as soon as we saw a flash through the thin nylon tent, a deafening booming roar followed, shaking the ground and vibrating inside my lungs. The lightning was literally hitting all around us. Brad and I had our two dogs piled in the middle of the tent and we were trying to calm them down. I don’t know who was scared more – us or the dogs! We were all shaking equally.
The truth is that I never felt so exposed to danger in my life.
After the storm finally passed, we got out to survey the damage. The ranger from the Oregon Butte Lookout came roaring down the road in his Jeep, and pulled into our campsite. “Are you guys ok?,” he asked. “I saw lightning strikes all around your campsite and I was worried about you.” Yes, thank heavens, we were okay.
Surviving the fury of this storm minimized the other fears I had addressed earlier that day. While we were hiking, we encountered the largest black bear I’d ever seen just about 50 feet away on the trail. I had also shucked off my boots to make a river crossing barefoot which had also scared me because of my inherent clumsiness. Yes, I am a klutz, and am constantly tripping and falling. Trying to cross a frigid fast-flowing river with slippery rocks spelled a recipe for accident in my mind… but I made it. Both ways.
All-in-all, this past Saturday had three major experiences that had scared me silly. Besides the adrenaline rushes, I now have the “hindsight” perspective of what these frightening experiences did to me. It helped me gain confidence and not let fear of what COULD happen paralyze me.
Most of the time, when we do something that scares us, it doesn’t usually hurt us, but what it can do (if we let it) is transform how we react to those things.
Not that I would immediately rush out to find the nearest thunderstorm and set up a tent… or go find the nearest bear in the woods… but now I feel empowered. I got through terrifying situations that scared me despite not knowing how it was going to turn out.
But things did turn out okay, and I realize that I can handle that fear. And this is an important lesson even in job searching.
If you are scared of networking, don’t let the fear rule you. Don’t let the possibility of what COULD happen cause you to freeze up. You have to roll with the punches and have faith that everything will turn out alright. When you come out on the other end of what is a terrifying experience, you realize how much you let fear rule you. And you resolve to change that fear into caution, and let the experience become a character-building experience.
It’s a profound thing, and you’ll be amazed out how empowering how overcoming your fears can be… what doesn’t destroy us can help us become stronger!