I am sure each and every one of you have had a moment where you were terrified. You have that “I am going to shit my pants” nervous feeling. Somehow whatever scared you happened, the moment passed, and you went on with your life. Yet, you can remember that terrifying moment. You will never forget it. All the details might begin to fade, but the crucial time stays in your memory forever.
After reading this Fast Company article, “How to be a Success at Everything: The Art and Science of Building Confidence Under Pressure” I got to thinking about anticipation, see this excerpt from the article (bold sections are my own emphasis):
“Stress builds when we are waiting for something to happen. ‘Our anticipation is so much worse than doing the thing you’re afraid of,’ she observes. Instead of procrastinating so much that you lose sleep, take apart the situation, think it over logically and get it over with as soon as possible. ‘You are going to survive this,’ Williams says. Stress can be a great thing, she says, because it signals that you are doing something challenging.”
My guess is that a large part of the time when we have a moment that we are terrified, it is the anticipation that makes us freaked out. Once we get through the heat of the moment, and we look back and say “that was not as bad as a I thought it would be.” You might even go back and decide to do it all over again, no longer afraid. Anticipation allows us to dream, ponder, and potentially agonize over what may, could, should happen so that when the moment actually happens we have processed all the woulda, shoulda, coulda responses. It makes us feel safer. Rather than go into a terrifying moment blind, anticipation makes us feel like we are slightly more prepared.
Is it all a waste of time? Are we more prepared? I think it is good to have the oh shit moments once in a while. It keeps us on our toes, and leaves us feeling more alive. What do you think?