This post is probably not about what you think it is. No, I haven’t gone hiking across a suspension bridge 1000 feet above the stream. No, I haven’t gone barreling down a mountainside in a luge. And no, I haven’t sat down next to a Bengal tiger and scratched his soft, furry ears. No, this post is about something completely out of the realm of physical fears. It’s about fear of a different kind – the fear of just about anything that can take over our heads and become bigger than real life. For me, it was fear of the almighty credit rating.
You see, six years ago, as the result of a bunch of crazy circumstances that lined up with the stars just right, the home I’d been living in (and paying for) for over 10 years was in the process of foreclosure, and I had just filed for bankruptcy, only days after my cute little, bright blue Toyota RAV4 was hauled away by a stinger tow truck because it was being repossessed. (If you’ve never seen a car hooked up by a tow truck using a stinger, you’re missing one of the most amazing things ever! Incredible!) My job was gone; my business closed and fire-saled.
It was to be the beginning of a new life for me, one that I’d worked all my adult life to not have.
I grew up in a family that constantly struggled to pay the bills and put food on the table. I remember nights when the grace that was said before dinner could be eaten was on the order of “Bless this food; it’s the last of what we have in the house.” My brothers and I didn’t have bicycles or new shoes. As a teenager, I was embarrassed that I didn’t have the latest whatever-it-was that my friends had because we “didn’t have the money.” Money was really, really tight. Tight. And because of that, I determined that I would never be in the same position as an adult if I could somehow help it. So at 17, I started working and did everything possible to pay my bills, get Visas and MasterCards, have that gold-star credit rating.
And I did it.
Then, six years ago, I joined the ranks of “my credit is trashed.” I became fearful of that almighty credit rating. You may not know this if you’ve never filed a bankruptcy, but the applications for credit cards and auto loans come fast and furious once your bankruptcy has discharged, because the creditors know you can’t file another bankruptcy for seven years, meaning you will have to pay them back! I threw all the applications away because I couldn’t bear to be rejected by the loan companies and I was sure that’s what would happen. And after six years, that fear had grown to unreasonable proportions, residing in my brain like a monster-sized parasite, coloring all my thoughts about credit. That fear was so big in my head, I couldn’t even see past it into any kind of sanity about credit. I just didn’t want to know. I just didn’t want to be turned down for a flippin’ credit card. Silly, I know, but don’t you think fear is often unreasonable?
Then today, I sat down with my fear and had a conversation with it. I asked it to tell me what was the worst that could happen. I talked to it about my self-worth, questioning why I was letting this little thing called “credit” live in such a huge area of my being. And you know what answers I got? Over and over, I heard, “Just do it.” “Go now,” it said to me. “How are you gonna know if you don’t click on that submit button?” And, “What’s the worst that could happen?”
So I gulped down a huge glass of water, opened up at my laptop, Googled “credit cards for poor/fair scores” and clicked on the first thing that came up. I did some searching around, compared different cards with one another, finally picked one to apply for, filled out the information, and… and… with my heart thumping madly, I clicked on the submit button.
Seconds later, I had my answer. I had my answer! I was going to be the proud recipient of a MasterCard credit card! Yahoo!
So, although I’m often up for sliding down the world’s tallest water slide, flying off into the night on a crazy adventure, or jumping out of an airplane two miles above the earth, this credit-rating business had me petrified beyond (my) belief. My take-away in all of this? Feel the fear and do it anyway.
And that applies to more than swinging across a gully on a skinny, iffy suspension bridge. It applies to every aspect of life!
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If you’ve made it this far into my story, thank you for reading. It’s not always easy to admit failures and fears; by telling my story, my hope is that someone else going through something similar might get some strength from knowing they’re not alone. Hang in there!
9 thoughts on “Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway”
Lois (my friend) I feel humbled to have read all that you have been through and are still striving to overcome all
of the hard events of previous years. You go girl!! And…
congratulations for facing our fears and getting a credit card at last. You are quite a woman and friend. Love, Loralie Mattice
Hi Loralie! Thank you for your kind words. Isn’t this thing we call “life” such an amazing thing? I know you are also one brave woman to take on the events of your own life with courage and a smile. I’m blessed to call you my friend <3
Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment!
Good morning Lois. It’s 3:45 a.m. here in NM. Why am I up and reading your blog? Apparently it has a message for me. Perhaps that is- just do it. No not get a credit card, but let go of all the fear of being alone that I have accumulated since my divorce in 1999 and live my life. Stop feeling guilty about all the could haves and should haves and move on. So thank you for writing an honest blog Lois.
Much love and best wishes, Barbara
Hello, Barbara! Wow! You were up very early! It’s a brave thing to face the fear of being alone. And even though you’ve had this fear, you’ve still gone ahead and survived the last 15 years anyway. Now it’s time to thrive – pack up those fears and move on. I know, it’s easier said than done, and I also know you have what it takes to do it. Ask yourself what you want to do with the rest of your life – someplace you want to go? something you want to do? a skill you want to learn? Whatever it is, make arrangements to go do it. I know you can! Thanks for reading and commenting… I’m happy you’re my friend!
I realized a while back that the purpose of a good credit rating was to get us deeper in debt. A bad credit rating would actually help me avoid spending money I didn’t have. So I let my rating slip.
But, yes, our fears can control us. We can be our own most brutal critics and jailers. Sometimes our fears are valid, but they’re often irrational or blown way out of proportion. I spent much of my early life with a trunk full of fears. Not just monsters-under-the-bed type fears, but self-worth fears, existential fears. I took those mental/emotional bungee jumps into the chasm more out of desperation and self-preservation than out of bravery. But I did it. I know some people who are like I once was, and it pains me to see them afraid or unable to step into better mental health. As best as I can, I tell them to do it, to take a leap of faith in themselves, that they’ll feel SO much better.
Oh my goodness, Al – you are so correct! We could write volumes about how the credit industry has hoodwinked us into buying more, spending more, thinking we need to have more! After six years being 100% cash-based, I’ve only found one thing that I needed a credit card for: renting a car. And that’s not to pay for it, just to rent it! Now that I’m heading out on the next part of my journey, which involves some international travel, having that credit card will just make things a little easier. I don’t need more money 🙂
Good on ya for taking those jumps, making it past the fears! There’s nothing quite like the feeling one gets when it’s discovered that that little bit of unrealistic BS that’s done so much to control us is not really the big bad boogey-man/woman we made it out to be. Rock on, my friend!
Lois, there is much I relate too in this blog. Life changes is a fear; as an Army brat there were always changes. Ending a unhappy marriage was a big change, living alone after 11 years was a major change. Willing to trust a new marriage after 15 years of being single. What have I learned. I have not only managed the changes, I have grown, I have gained courage and acceptance…I am willing to learn my choice, my power AND my rewards…I am grateful for the “storms” for I know the sunshine is mine. Blessings for the courage to “leap”. I have learned that when I “leap” God will catch me or teach me how to fly…I am truly blessed.
Hi Sarah! Isn’t it great when we can look back at the events of our lives and see that we made it through some fires and lived to tell the tale? How awesome that you recognize the growth, the distance you’ve come, the faith that sustains you. I think it’s truly an amazing thing when we know where we’ve been and know where we are now. We are the sum total of all that’s happened in our lives and it sounds like you’re pretty happy with where you are today as a person. That’s fantastic! I’m grateful for your friendship – thanks for reading and leaving a comment!
I love your Blogs Lois, very uplifting. You are my inspiration in doing what you do to help me do it too!!! It is a journey and I want to be able to say at the end “What a ride”. Love ya girl.
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