Conquering Fears Headfirst

If there's one thing to know about me, it's that I'm not as brave as I seem to be.  I've been told I was strong my whole life, and maybe that is true.  But there are some moments where I'm just crippled with fear.

And those moments usually have to do with interacting with new people– that is the most terrifying.  But it's also the most rewarding, especially when it is necessarily linked with pushing through a fear.

Last Monday I conquered one of my biggest fears of all:  I went to a writing meetup group.

A month or so ago I discovered the website MeetUp.  I had been trying to find ways to meet new people in this crazy city, and this site came rife with already established groups and events that I could just jump right into.  It sounded amazing and the perfect sure to my summertime sadness.

What I forgot was that I'm terrified of meeting new people.  That I clam up and turn into my very introverted self at those crucial moments when I meet a bunch of new people.  Recently, I've been able to escape this fated shyness once in a while, like when meeting all of E's friends at his birthday gathering, or at an internship interview I had recently.  But, it's always a possibility in social situations, and completely out of my control.

So I didn't go to any meetups.  Until that Monday.

I've been wanting to find a way to keep myself writing when I'm back in school– writing for myself rather than mere essays.  I really love writing and I want to improve, so I decided a writing meetup group would be a good plan.  An hour of writing and then 2 hours of sharing work, if you want.  A group of people who are working on novels and have things published!  The potential for learning was unfathomable.  Since I had two weeks of nobody in the city to spend time with, I jumped at the chance to fill a Monday evening and RSVP'd "I'M GOING."

Initially, I was very excited!  I did not have a single thought of backing out... until monday afternoon.  I had gotten off work early and wandered down to my favorite coffee shop in Manhattan.  I sat there, reading, counting the minutes until I needed to head to the Upper West Side.  As the time passed and I got closer and closer to the end of my very suspenseful book (The Shining), I felt the nerves start to rattle my stomach.  I could just not show up.  I could stay at The Bean and read until the end of this very gripping novel.  I didn't *have* to interact with anyone that day other than the barista.

But I had told E that I was going.  And I couldn't bear to tell him I chickened out.  Plus, I *wanted* to go!  I walked to the train, made the necessary transfers robotically, and found myself outside of an apartment building with a doorman on the Upper West Side.  I was terrified.  I could still turn around and go home!  It wasn't too late!  But I walked up to the door, told the man why I was there, and he pointed me towards a woman standing and waiting for the elevator.  He said I would just follow her; we were going to the same place.

I walked over to her, nervous.  She was probably about 40 or 50 with a very kind face.  I never know how old people think that I am, but I already got the feeling I would be the youngest one in attendance by far.  We rode up the elevator together, chatting casually, both first timers at an event like this and both nervous.

We took off our shoes and I left my trusty sneakers outside the door to get to know the other twenty nameless pairs sitting in the too-small hallway.  That episode of *Sex and The City* crossed my mind, but I would've been okay with walking home barefoot.  Without even knocking, we entered.

First of all, the apartment was...breathtaking.  It was like I entered another universe full of magic and wonder.  Every bit of wall space was covered with magazine covers from the 80's and 90's.  They were perfectly lined up, and immaculately curated.  You know, boobs next to space suits next to some has-been comedy actor's "funny" face.  Even the column in the middle of the room was bedecked in paper.  At the table, one chair was replaced with a giant rubber band ball, and where a couch should have been stood a massive pile of loudly colored pillows.  The place was spotless and there were bunches of bananas, bowls of licorice, and a cheese plate set out on the kitchen bar.

The details of the meetup aren't the most relevant.  We spent an hour writing, which was the most exhilarating hour I've had in a while.  After that, we chatted for a bit and some people read bits of their yet unfinished novels.  I can't say I was overly impressed with the writing, but the dedication was absolute inspiring.

I had to leave early to make sure I grabbed a train before it ran express through my stop.  But I left knowing I would definitely be going back.  Meeting new people who love to write, who love to meet new people, and who are so very friendly might've been the highlight of my week.

Bravery isn't about not being afraid, it's about facing your fears.  Even if they're as silly as meeting new people


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Meet The Author

I'm Madysen, born and raised in Nebraska but now living out my dreams in New York City. I moved here to go to Columbia, but living in New York has become so much more to me. This blog is a space where I can share my experiences of reconciling my midwestern upbringing with the life I live in the city. But even bigger than that, this blog serves as a space where I can try to understand where I fit into the larger social world, where I want to go in life, and how I want to go about pursuing all of these endeavors.

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