Susan Jeffers

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A 'Feel the Fear' Story

Learning to shoot

I find myself almost stuck where to start this story. It's not a miraculous overnight transformation that has happened within me, but it is something that has come from years of searching for more and the realization that the key reason I have been unhappy in my life is me! I will start with my teenage years, from a point I vividly remember. I was talking with my boyfriend at the time and I remember saying to him, ''Do you love yourself?'' his response was, ''Of course I love myself, if I don't then who will?'' and I just simply could not understand this concept. I did not love myself; in fact, I hated myself and I hated not just the way I looked but my own personality. Because of this I was shy, awkward and lacked confidence.

My whole life I have been a dreamer, fantasizing about the different things I would love to achieve yet never quite believing that these things were possible.

My first year at university was scary, amazing, happy, sad and exciting all at once. The person I thought I was changed completely and I grew in confidence. I made some terrible choices with this confidence such as cheating on my ex boyfriend, but I finally fought through my guilt and decided it was time to end the relationship.

After this I determined that I wasn’t happy with the way my studies were going and, although I was studying journalism because I am a good writer and I enjoyed writing, I didn’t feel I got anything from the course itself. I threw caution to the wind and I started university all over again in a new course. I studied a mixed media course, in which I learnt film, photography and animation, all things that I had never studied in my entire life.

However, the best thing and scariest thing I have ever done in my life was joining the university basketball team. It might sound stupid to some people but to me it was a huge step. I’ve never really played basketball before but for some reason I was always so drawn to it. I finally got the guts to go after months of contemplation and I was terrible, unfit and had no confidence. By the end of it I was completely knocked out from suicide runs! I still today have no idea what made me go back; maybe I just loved the game so much, maybe the team were so nice to me, but I went back week after week and in my final year of university I ran for captain. I didn’t think that I would actually win it but, when I did, I was shocked. This is the year that truly changed my life, and I became the positive, ambitious, forward thinking person I am now.

There's no question that I struggled as captain at times; it is a very responsible position that requires leadership and confidence. One thing that I had never in my whole life seen myself as was a leader, yet here I was day after day leading the team in trainings and winning games. It was the most amazing feeling. As much as I was having a great time I still struggled to feel positive and I never felt like I was really fulfilling my potential. My coach was telling me I needed to step up as captain. Although I’d become passionate about photography, my tutors were telling me I needed to apply myself more, I just couldn’t understand what was wrong with me; I had so much talent and potential yet it had been the same story my whole life I just couldn’t seem to fulfil it. As much as I wanted to be happy I found myself dragged down by negativity, becoming depressed one day and then feeling fine the next, I depended on my boyfriend at the time for happiness.

After a teary basketball practice one evening when I had played terribly, I would start dribbling and then stop at the first defender, I would see an open shot and not take it, I realised something. I was afraid of taking the shot because I was afraid of missing. However, even though I didn’t take the shot it was like I still missed because I missed the opportunity of shooting. Then I thought about my life, and I realised for the first time, the reason I didn’t feel successful was because I was afraid of failure. I didn’t take chances on the things that I wanted to do because of my fear of failure. And yep you guessed it, by not taking my chances and doing it anyway I was in a sense failing myself. This is what led me to read Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway. It is a cliché but this book changed my life! I became a positive, confident and loving person; the person that I never thought I could be. After this I became the best captain I could have been, I organised events, basketball tournaments and became a true leader to my team.

Since I read this book I can honestly say that I have been happy at last. There's no question that there have been difficult times, probably some of the most challenging times in my entire life so far, and I have been hurt and down, but I have always risen out of it, stronger and more positive. My mum had a mini-nervous breakdown when her medication was adjusted. I was in the middle of writing my dissertation and I had to go home and look after her. As bad as things got, I reached deep within myself and used the tools that I had learnt from Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway, remembered that everything was happening perfectly, and I simply had faith that by staying positive, however it happened, things would get better. Luckily my mum has got better since and it made me so much stronger to go through that.

Three weeks ago my boyfriend broke up with me. It has been without a doubt the most painful thing I have ever suffered. At one point I felt really weak and pathetic, and I couldn't actually stop crying; I was almost begging him to take me back. It's amazing how the strong can be knocked down so easily by love. I have grown since then however even in this short time. And even when I was hurting and I knew I was meant to be depressed and hopeless, I still felt positive, even through my tears, it’s like my mind just didn't allow negativity anymore. I still felt good about myself and I have grown to realise that I am worth more than what he put me through. I am no longer a victim and I have taken control of my life. I do not regret one minute of our relationship however hurt I may be. The positive things that the relationship brought me outweigh the negative by far.

I have so much ahead of me now, I finished university and there are so many doors open to me. For now I am going to finally fulfil my dream of travelling starting with Australia, and who knows where I’ll end up from there! The difference between how I felt about my future before I read the book is that now I KNOW my future is in MY hands! I have the ability to become all that I can be, and no matter what I finally decide to do in life, that has become my true ambition.

So, from all my heart, thank you Susan!

Teresa, Kent, England