Fear is a driving force for many people. It can make or break you, but what if fear itself left you unable to conquer your world? What if you were asked to do something that you weren't completely sure you were capable of doing? About three months ago, I was faced with the decision to either prove myself or let the world, as I knew it go up in flames around me.
I was forced to attend a self-help program by my mom. She was spiritually, physically and emotionally in tune and imposed that ideal on her children. All three of us were dragged to Avanza. As we participated in a number of self help groups before, we were promised that there would be no more, so this was unexpected. I assumed we were going to discuss things that didn't matter, like our feelings. Yet, there I was in the life coach’s backyard. There was a flurry of people, but I still felt alone. The coach’s words are still ringing in my ears. I heard them, but I couldn't process them. All I could do was stand there wide eyed and barefoot.
“You are going to be walking on fire across this small pathway.” The life coach announced. I can't believe he said it so casually. It's like he's a psychopath. After his announcement, I assumed he was bluffing. I learned an important lesson that night. That man did not lie.
There was an excited murmur that rang through the crowd. Excited? Why were they excited? I knew these people had problems, but I didn't think they were this desperate. I was terrified down to my very core. From across the lawn, my whole family looked at me with a concerned expression. Normally, I would return the glance with confidence, but this time my mind was busy.
My terror skyrocketed when the flames went up. The heat made it feel like we were being cooked. It was almost unbearable. My mind immediately remembered all those times my mother reminded me not to play with fire. The burning coals were placed onto the narrow pathway slowly, as if they were purposely taunting me. We were asked to form a line and my sister had to nudge me in order to usher me to finally move. I struggled to walk to the very back. Gloria, one of the staff members there, could see the fear in my face.
“Are you scared?” She voiced her concern.
“No. I'm not scared of these kinds of situations.” I stubbornly replied. I lied through my teeth.
“If you are too frightened then you don't have to go. You can sit out like your brother.” She saw right through my lie. I was the youngest in the group by far. In fact, I was the youngest person to ever be in this adult program. My mother had enrolled my siblings and I in the program to resolve family problems, she assumed we had. At this point, the only issues we were facing was the fire at our feet. I had to prove myself, because I had a reputation to uphold among my siblings. There was no way I was going to lose it, because I was afraid to cross the fiery steps. If I go through with this, my reputation will live, but I won't. My mental battle was short lived.
I could hear the cheering of the life coach as each person walked across. I refused to release my tied up hair for fear that it would burn.
As I stood before the fire and its red coals, I reluctantly made the choice to cross. They sprayed my feet with water and ordered me to cover them with mud. I felt a tap on my shoulder alerting me that it was my turn to cross. As I took my first step, my mind completely shut down. Nothing made sense. It was as if I fell down a rabbit hole. It hurt, but at the same time it didn't. I could feel the small wood chips under my feet. It was surprisingly pleasant in a painful way. It was a good pain. The crackle of the fire was pounding through my ears. I was barely halfway through. The flames were up to my knees. The voices of other people sounded distant even if they were a couple feet away. Bu-dump bu-dump bu-dump. My heart was beating erratically. The path seemed endless. Each step was starting to get more painful. I was unsure if I wanted to continue. I felt the tears welling up in my eyes. By the time I was three quarters across, I felt a spot on my leg burning. I decided that enough was enough. My mind made the rational decision to leap over the last portion of the path. I prepared myself by digging my heels into the flaming coals and I jumped with all the strength I could muster. I made it.
A sense of victory passed over me. The group cheered for me and I was greeted with hugs.
When I remember all of the ridiculous places my mom has dragged me to, this is one of my favorites. I remember not being able to walk for the next day or two because of my scorched toes. Looking back on this experience, I learned a valuable lesson about myself. When faced with a challenge, I don’t let fear interfere with my adventure.