Fear. What’s better than facing our fear? At times, pretty much anything. Distraction is so much better when I’m facing a fear – whether it’s scrolling through Facebook, watching a show, or indulging in something I usually wouldn’t – like a plate of nachos.
Our fear can be good to us. I recently went through an exercise at Scott Stabile’s writing workshop where we wrote a letter to our fear. I learned that my fear has the best intentions and love at its core. It wants me to be safe and happy. It questions why I would want to try anything else that wouldn’t keep me that way.
As human beings we’re growing and learning all the time. As a result, we come up against fear when we do something we’re unfamiliar with.
When my husband and I were dating, I remember a conversation we had about buying our first home. I dreamily explained what it would look like and the things I would want and my husband shook his head no. He said there was no way we would ever be able to afford that in Seattle.
Over the next few years, we got married and our friends started buying property. We learned about programs they used to help them with the buying process, which led us to a class with a mortgage lender. At the time of the class we still weren’t sure how we were going to make this happen.
We had a list of “favorite” houses that we were looking at online but not physically going to look at. For those of you who have been house hunting before you’re “ready,” you know how this goes.
The US economy started to drop and one of the houses went from being out of our budget to being at the top of our budget. Two of our friends emailed us the exact same house and we decided it was time to take action.
We joined our neighbor, friend, and realtor, Everett Talvo, and went to see over 10 houses and the house we had seen online was the last one we looked at. It was small – 910 square feet – but we could see the charm potential with a little love and a lot of sweat equity. We put our offer in and after some nerve-wracking back and forth communication, our offer was accepted.
Our mortgage payment was the biggest payment we had ever made on a monthly basis. Our new house was farther north from the city than we were used to. For the first couple of years of owning our house we spent a lot of time at home, cutting costs the best we could. I remember an older colleague said to me at the time, “the first year of paying a mortgage is really tough but it gets easier after that.”
Luckily for us, it did get easier. We started fixing our little house up a bit at a time. At year six, we started thinking it may be time to do something different – remodel or find a new house.
The US economy had returned and the housing market was going crazy again. We heard stories of houses with 20 offers on them and cash offers being the only winners. After speaking to an architect, a contractor, and a few realtors, we decided it was a better decision for us to sell our house and buy a new one.
We had a lot of fear going into this process. Were people going to like our house? Were they going to find things wrong with it? What should we list it at? When should we list it? Will we have enough money to buy a new house? Will we find something better than our current house? Where will we live after we sell our house?
We found a real estate team that mentored us – Kelly and Kian Pornour. Having their guidance helped ease our fears and boost our confidence.
Miraculously, everything fell into place very well. We sold our little house with ease. We had over 150 people attend our open house and 12 good offers. We had been looking at houses ourselves for months but once our offer was in place, we started looking more seriously.
One afternoon we went to look at a house and I had another house on our list but I was tired and didn’t want to go. My husband convinced me to make the additional stop. We walked in and knew by the first bedroom that it was the right house. Both of us could visualize where our friends and family would congregate and how we would fix it up to make it our own.
We’ve lived in that house for three years now and we often catch ourselves and say, this house is so nice. We were able to fix it up and create something that was even better than we thought it would be. We’re grateful for a beautiful place to call home and entertain family and friends at.
When we face our fears, the best way I’ve found to do this is a little at a time. My husband and I didn’t think that we would ever buy a house in Seattle. Over time, we gradually made choices that helped us change our minds. Once we believed we could do it, we made small steps to create a pathway. When we walked into that mortgage class 10 years ago we said, “We’re just checking this out. It may not happen but it’s a good step.”
I heard an amazing quote this past year, “freedom is on the other side of fear.” When people are asked what they want in life, they usually have freedom at the top of their list in some form. For those of you who have faced fear, you have experienced the freedom on the other side.
Wherever you are today, if there is something you’re avoiding or distracting yourself with to keep from facing a fear, keep these few things in mind:
- Take small steps to work towards the fear you’re facing.
- Lean on and learn from your friends, family, mentors, and people you haven’t met yet who have done what you want to do (or something like it).
- Know that facing a fear may take more or less time than you anticipate.
- Share your experience. Someone is bound to benefit from it.
To some, admitting fear is a weakness. When I tell people I’m afraid I am honest, authentic, and true and that is when I am strongest.