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!