25 Jul Fearless in the Name of New Adventures
As part of my series on women breaking the mold, I asked one of my very dear friends, Marylou Berra, to share her stories of fearlessness. She’s been to some really cool places and tried things she never thought she could all in the name of adventure. However, it doesn’t mean she didn’t have a healthy dose of “what on earth am I doing?” In the end, knowing the reward of facing her fears made it all worth it. With that, I share her story.
By Marylou Berra
I’m not exactly the textbook definition of what I consider adventurous. When I think of all of the daring people I know who jump at the chance to do whatever, whenever, wherever, I have a genuine sense of envy because many things—rational and irrational—scare the crap out of me.
But here’s the thing: the Webster dictionary definition of “adventurous” isn’t just about being fearless:
- Not afraid to do new and dangerous or exciting things
- Exciting or unusual
- Full of danger and excitement
While the idea of “danger” doesn’t really compute, I am on board with the excitement aspect. Now this, I can relate to…
Excitement comes in many forms, which in means it can also come from many different types of adventure. Of course you can always go the route of adrenaline pumping activities—rock climbing, river rafting, paragliding, scuba diving, surfing, racecar driving, etc..
But there are also less obvious ways to seek adventure through design, fashion, music, friends, family, work, quiet days, productive days.
For me, some of the things that really excite me are travel, music, friends, family, college basketball (Bear Down!), and horses. All of these sources of excitement have led me to incredible adventures.
But a surprising element has also led me to some of my most memorable and meaningful adventures…fear.
Why All This Talk About Fear & Adventure?
There are certain things that I do without a trace of fear. I tackle my career without fear. I walk into a room full of strangers without fear. I present to an audience of 10 or 100 without fear. I travel without fear. I move to a new state or country without fear.
So why all of this talk about fear, adventure, excitement and my life? Because I know a lot of women, just like me, who live with fear, many of who, when armed with the courage to take the next step, could make major breakthroughs, just like I have.
Over the years, I’ve learned that the experiences that were initially coupled with fear turned out to be the most rewarding and satisfying.
Most of my life, when it came to fashion, I erred on the side of conservative. The 1990s were filled with polos, unfashionably high-waisted jeans, braided belts, bodysuits, and boxy blazers. Looking back, I realize how unoriginal I was, but I was afraid to break from the masses.
A few years later, I had the fortune of meeting amazing women in the fashion industry who taught me to bravely embrace unexpected choices and combinations. A whole new world opened up!
The dress I would typically only consider for a formal event became one of my favorite dresses for a casual brunch. I broke the old school concept that shoes have to match the bag and mixed up styles, patterns, and colors. I moved away from wearing what was expected and began to explore fashion that made me happy.
This influence took hold as I made design choices for my home. I was once told that all furniture pieces should be the same material and color wood. What? Why? That made no sense to me.
Today I have pieces that are black, red, brown, grey, metal, mirrored, and I embrace the notion of bold colors. My home is scattered with pink, orange, green, purple, and yellow. A favorite addition is a turquoise settee in my dining room. Every time I walk by, I smile. It makes me happy.
The whole essence of my home makes me happy. It is filled with a variety of styles and colors that were influenced by a sense of adventure and that have resulted in a satisfying sense of contentment.
How to Conquer Your Fear of Flying? By Jumping Out of an Airplane of Course.
Over the years, one of the things I have learned with any fear, is the best way to conquer it, is to look towards the reward on the other side.
For example, I love to travel, but I loathe flying. I’ve been fortunate to travel to some remarkable places all over the world; Costa Rica, London, Ibiza, Fiji, Hong Kong, Rome, St Tropez, Montreal, Jackson Hole (one of my favorites!), and many others, with undoubtedly more to come.
I cannot imagine trading in any of my experiences because I am irrationally fearful of a form of travel that has been scientifically proven to be safer than walking (seriously, walking is more life-threatening). I am acutely aware of the irrational element of this fear and have done what I can to combat it.
One such attempt occurred during a trip to Montreal. While visiting this beautiful city, my friends and I decided to explore the countryside by…skydiving. Jumping out of a plane at 13,000 feet was one of the most exhilarating, adventurous moments of my life and a memory with the best of friends that I will forever cherish.
Face the Fear and Gain Adventure
Another example? I used to be afraid of horses. Odd fear to overcome for a city girl? Yes, but I couldn’t ignore this nagging internal voice to do something about it. So I did. And it changed my life in every possible way.
My first session was nearly disastrous and my instructor, Cheyenne, swore she would never see me again. But I showed up the next week. And 4 years later, I continue to show up. Not only have I learned how to properly and confidently ride, but more importantly, I have learned how to connect, trust, and respect these incredible animals.
I could go on and on about this subject, but I will spare you my pontification and simply write that Cheyenne and her rescue horses introduced me to a world I never knew I needed, and one that I can’t imagine my life without. Every week at the ranch is an adventure and I walk away each time with renewed excitement for not just what I am learning about them, but what they are teaching me about myself.
Choose Your Own Adventure
These are my stories of adventure, and I encourage you to embrace your own sense of adventure, in however you define it to be.
Book that extreme travel vacation, paint your front door turquoise, wear crazy prints together because they make you happy, spend the day on the couch even if it’s 72 and sunny.
And as trite as this may sound, I really mean it…don’t be afraid of the fear—it could be the very thing that fuels the adventure and that ultimately fills your life with excitement!