Have You Ever Been Afraid?

When I started to write about my journey I vowed that I would never be afraid to be honest with myself. Whatever the consequences were, I had to be honest. If I was honest then any criticism I might get I could certainly handle. Funny thing about honesty, especially emotional honesty, it gives you two strong feet to stand on – like Red Bull without the liver killing sugar.

The problem is getting to the point where you can be honest with yourself and others – that’s when fear sticks its fat mug into the action and blocks you from being straight up.

So, let’s kick fear in the nuts and put some eyes on the problem.

I’m afraid of being by myself in new situations and different environments. It’s not that I lack self-confidence. I think I’m pretty good in that department. Or maybe not. Who the hell knows (this might give you a clue to the problem).

The fear of walking into a room of strangers at the gym, a dinner party or what triggered this post – my fear of going to the pool to swim alone. All these stop me right in my tracks. Leaving me afraid of being found out – that I’m not a “smart one” or unskilled.

This happened yesterday.

Swimming was on my training schedule for the day. I knew it was there. All weekend I knew it was coming and I just ignored it (ear muffs .. lalalalalala) – my bad habits were starting to return. Denial is one of the many character defects of the alcoholic. This recovering alcoholic included.

I know and you know, the adult thing would have been to tell my Coach what was going on. Deal with it head on. But again, that “whole afraid thing” kind of gets in the way. Yea, I know the F.E.A.R. acronym. Works great on a poster in the office break room but not in my house.

Here’s the odd thing, water doesn’t scare me. Quite the contrary. I love to swim and feel like a fish in the water. It’s the looking like an idiot part that scares the shit out of me. Rationally, I know no one is paying the slightest bit of attention to me. This isn’t 7th grade Spanish class and no one is teasing anyone for not knowing the answer.

Michael C Hernandez is not afraid of swimming

My fear keeps on keeping on just the same.

Make no mistake. My will to win. My desire to compete isn’t tamed or diluted by this particular brand of fear. The drive to be my best is there every single day. 

You see, one of the reasons I decided to do an IRONMAN 70.3 was to confront my fears and to be my personal best. And I knew this particular fear would come up and it finally has. What I am learning is that training and time won’t wait on me to evaluate my fears. Training demands that I face those fears pretty damn quick and move forward – or don’t. And for me, don’t is not an option because the alternative leads down a bad road.

So, every time I’m afraid I need to ask myself, “Michael, you’re going to have to choose either to be an athlete or an alcoholic.

Which one do you want?”