By: Moriah Wilson
I want to talk a little bit about fear. When I was younger, I used to have a fear of riding bridges. It started when I fell off of a twisty bridge one summer day. I distinctly remember the situation: I just came in a little too tight on the corner and my back tire slipped off. Although I came out unscathed – except for maybe a slight scratch here or there – it was traumatic for me as young rider. From there on out I was fine on straight and wide bridges, but anything narrow, turny, or high up gave me anxiety. I began to walk these bridges, and the more I walked them, the harder it became for me to attempt crossing them again.
Fear for beginners is normal, especially after an incident that can be used to justify that fear. It’s even deeply rooted in our biology, and can commonly be described as the “fight-or-flight response,” in which our sympathetic nervous system releases hormones during stressful situations to determine whether we should flee or fight. From an evolutionary standpoint this response has been extremely useful. However, in modern times it is often overused in situations that don’t actually pose serious threats to our survival. Is falling off a bridge while riding my bike an extremely dangerous threat? In the grand scheme of things… the answer is no. I’m not trying to disregard fear altogether – it’s just important to realize that many of our fears are a little irrational. And the real kick is that they can always be overcome.
For me, the process in overcoming my fear of bridges involved taking baby steps. I started with some of the easier “hard” bridges, and focused on the things that would help me succeed in crossing them. For me that was looking ahead on the bridge so that I would stay balanced and keep myself moving in the direction I wanted. The small victories gave me the confidence and the motivation to try harder ones. And the feeling I got from doing something that scared me was the most rewarding of all.
So whatever your fear may be, know that it can be overcome. Make a plan, and gain confidence in each step of the process. The reward will be worth it.