On the other side of fear

I am cruising down the roads of Bali on a a scooter.

In the periphery of my eyes: rice fields and palm tree-fringed landscapes, distant temples, street food warungs, a continuous flow of other scooters.

On my face: a massive smile.

I had left Gili Islands feeling heavy and drained of energy.

But once I got to Canggu I was ready to get back on track. I got to my guest house just before sunset and went straight to the beach for a long due run. It was hot and humid and I ran past all the cool surf dudes and beach babes, past the bars and hipster cafes, drenched in sweat and with a face red like a stop sign. I crashed early that night and woke up from the sunrise the next day.

I had quickly realized that scooters were the means to get around. But I had not actually driven one in fifteen years. In fact, I had not even driven a car in maybe ten!

I took my drivers license when I was nineteen and living at my mom’s, back in my little Swedish home town. I barely passed the exams, never actually enjoyed driving and because we didn’t own a car, I only drove sporadically that summer. The following ten years, I would live in cities like Rome, Stockholm, Sydney, Båstad, Cape Town and Oslo; places either small enough to bike or too big and scary for me to drive in.

I got good at avoiding driving, and I started considering my driver’s license an old relic.

But there I was, in beautiful Canggu with it’s open roads and spread out hot spots, and I knew I had no option but to face my fear.

And just like they say everything you want is on the other side of fear, I felt myself completely yielding to the freedom I had longed for.

I could go anywhere I wanted, on the scooter and in real life!

Of course, we are still talking about a little scooter on back roads of a small town, going 40 km an hour, but to me, this was a big step.

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I still have a lot of fears I need to face, like my fear of deep water, of being naked and vulnerable, of being ugly or making a fool of myself, of failure, of commitment and not being good enough.

But there are also fears I have overcome (or at least gotten better at accepting):

I used to be afraid of running.

I used to be afraid of all kinds of sports and exercise.

I used to be afraid of showing my legs in shorts, or my body in bikini.

I used to be afraid of showing my naked back because of a birthmark.

I used to be afraid of responsibility and accountability, of stepping up to the plate.

I used to be afraid of even admitting I was afraid, and that deep down I am always trying to cover up my flaws and frailties, to prove myself brave, when really I am just as scared as the next person.

But this is me letting go.

This is me riding that scooter, by myself, at my own pace, feeling a little uncomfortable at first but quite quickly starting to relax and allowing a new feeling of trust to take place;

Everything I want is on the other side of fear.