Facing Your Fear
By Deborah Templeton
Learning Architect, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Foreword by Venkat
While role models serve to inspire, the courage to persevere comes from conquering our own fears. Just one experience can transform the entire life and Deb’s amazing attempt at the Grand Canyon did just that! Her wonderful narrative is thrilling to read, laced by the expressive emotions she went through and the transformative value she reaped from the same.
Find inspiration to face your fears and in Deb’s words “Discover yourself and achieve beyond what you ever did!”
I love learning, designing, weaving, knitting, running, walking, and people! My present role is Learning Architect at Genpact, where I help clients learn how to use supply chain planning software to be successful. If you are interested in learning more about my textile designing and weaving you can visit my website at https://teagirlsilverwebdesigns.com
Facing Your Fear
“Look at that! Those people are crazy. Why on earth would anyone want to do that?” This was a conversation my partner and I were having as we sat on a bench overlooking the Grand Canyon. We were watching people climb Guano Point on the West Rim section of the canyon. Guano Point was a part of the canyon which juts out like a long thin extension with steep cliff edges with a huge hill of orange boulders at its furthermost point.
We watched as people were walking up and down and around the pile huge pile of boulders, way out at the end of that thin peninsula. Both of us are afraid of heights and so it was absurd to think that we would want to do that. We weren’t looking for a reason to go climb a high pile of rocks that overlooks the deep canyon below. But as we sat, I noticed that quite a few people were doing this trek and I observed that not all of them were young. In fact, there were many couples much older than us and they managed to climb up that huge hill of rocks, so I started thinking that perhaps if I took a chance to face my fear, and just took it slow, I should go and see how far I could push myself. I was curious about my own limits.
I turned to my husband and asked if we could at least try to go up Guano Point. He looked at me like I had two heads and said “Are you crazy?! I don’t want to go out there!” I paused for a while and then I decided that I would try to see how far I could go. I made my way to the start of the peninsula and continued to watch as people came and went by me. I took I took a deep breath in and carefully started walking forward feeling anxious but managing to continue to finally reach the base of the hill of boulders of Guano Point. I looked up to the peak towering above me. It was bigger and higher than it looked from the bench I first saw it from. I looked around. I looked down the edge off the cliff. It was very frightening to me but I was determined to at least try to do some of this climb.
I started out on the narrow dusty path and continued around the wide circumference of the base and found the path eventually began taking me upward. The tricky part was that the path was not continuous or nicely laid out and would end suddenly, blocked by a large boulder. So sometimes I had to climb up and around obstacles, to make my own way. This was very difficult for me as I felt very uneasy with the cliff so close to where I was, but I continued to move upward and onward, always looking up as much as I could, to keep climbing without focusing on the dizzying depths of the canyon below.
Occasionally I would pause to try to slow my breathing as my heart was racing. Every once in a while, I would try to glance down but that didn’t last for long because my fear of heights caused me to be uneasy. I continued to make my way slowly to the top, and after what seemed like an eternity, I arrived! I had to wait for a minute while a young couple posed at the top of the peak to take their selfie. When they left on their downward trek, I gingerly made my way to sit on the top boulder. My heart was pounding tremendously fast and I was shaking like a leaf in the wind. I was very nervous but also excited and proud that I managed to climb up to the top and face my fear. I did it! When I took out my phone to take a selfie, I was shaking so badly that it was difficult to hold the phone still to take my picture without looking down. I was terrified of dropping with my phone into the canyon below. I quickly snapped the selfie while being blinded by the light of the sun, so the result was me looking rather squinty.
From the vantage of the Guano Point peak, I took a moment to briefly look across to see if I could find my husband sitting on the bench where I left him but he was no longer there. In case he was watching from another area I bravely raised my arm slowly and did a little wave.
Now to get back down. Much to my surprise I had thought that the most difficult part of this would be the climb while facing my fear of heights. What I didn’t realize was that going up was the “easy” part as I was always looking up. It was coming down where I always had to look down and see the fantastic and frightening depth of the lands below me. My heart began to race again. I decided I would take things slow just as I did on the way up and that I would be alright as long as I was careful of my footing.
I noticed that there was an elderly couple who was also making the journey down just ahead of me. I decided that if this elderly couple could make it down then I could make it down too, and I decided to stay close to them on the descent. They were from Asia and I am from Canada and we did not speak each other’s languages. But when we came to a spot that was difficult to maneuver, they talked and pointed, and the gentleman worked his way down one level and faced up to coach his wife down the difficult part. With much discussion between the two and a while passing she finally managed to make it down that level and I was there beside her also trying to do my best. We got to a flat spot and we looked at each other and smiled knowing that we each made it through this difficult part together. A smile is an international language that we all understand. I looked at her and raised my hand in the air as I said “High five?”. She looked at her husband and back at me and said something in her own language, indicating to me that she didn’t understand. I motioned my raised hand as if making a high five clap in the air as I said again “High five?”. She smiled and laughed and said “Ah! High five!” and clapped her hand in the air against mine. She and her husband laughed and chuckled and said high five, high five a couple of times, and then they stopped to take pictures and I carried on slowly and carefully continuing my descent solo from Guano Point.
It was still scary for the rest of the way down to the base but I carried on and made it safely to the path where I returned from the peninsula and back to the land expanse at the top of the Grand Canyon grounds, safe and sound. I was so proud of myself, and so happy that I was able to fight my fear and do something I didn’t think that I could do. When I got back to my husband, I was so excited and he was proud of me but still said that he was not going to do that, which made me laugh.
Climbing Guano Point was not something I initially set out to do, but when this challenge presented itself, I am thankful that I took it on. I have reflected on this event many times in my life when faced with difficult tasks, and have found that it gives me courage to go forward.
I urge you to face your fear and to do things that you were afraid to do (while keeping safe, of course). Although you may not like doing it, you may discover another side of yourself and achieve things that you never thought were possible.
What fears will you conquer today? This week? This month? This year?
Ask yourself what is holding you back, then push through the uncertainty and the adversity and surprise yourself, while achieving more than ever before.
By Deborah Templeton