I saw Divergent with a friend last night. And, oh friends, that movie deserves its own special blog post… but I’ll refrain. If you’re not familiar (don’t worry, no spoilers), the movie is based on a dystopian novel where society is split into factions based on character traits that ultimately lead to catastrophic destruction. There’s this power chick (played by the one and the only, Shailene Woodley), who ends up leading a “revolution” of sorts in an attempt to save the entire community. When she must choose which faction she belongs in, she goes with the faction that forces her to face her fears head on, staring down evil leaders & submitting herself to incredible & dangerous physical challenges, many in the face of death. Then, to top if off, there’s this whole “falling in love” with Theo James thing that just makes the movie even more epic.
Seriously, race to the box office to see the movie this weekend. It’s that good… you won’t regret it. But also make sure you have a LARGE bag of popcorn in front of you, that movie is freakin’ long.
But the reason I bring it up, beyond the fact that I left the movie theater last night so happy & high on endorphins, is that it actually sparked a lengthy discussion about what it means to really face your fears. I, for one, would rather not. I don’t do well outside my comfort zone, and new challenges — exciting as they may be — sometimes overwhelm me. But as I was talking with a friend after the movie had ended, she started suggesting that the only way we can even come close to overcoming our deepest fears (or at least being less terrified of them), is to face that fear and put yourself in those challenging situations over and over again.
You see, in Divergent, the characters are forced to enter their own “fear landscapes,” pretty much just hallucinations that target one’s deepest fears and force you to do something about them before you can move on to the next one. They do this over and over again, and even though they may get faster, or the fears may hurt a little less, they are aways there. And it always hurts.
I think that may be in true in life, too. I used to be terrified of running. I’d hyperventilate if I even thought about running more than a block or two, thinking I’d surely pass out or my legs would collapse on the ground and my entire body would shut down. I don’t know whether it’s just something I had built up in my mind since they forced us to run in middle school for a gym grade, or whether I was just terrified my body couldn’t handle it. Most likely, both.
Regardless of how I rant and rave about how running has changed my life… I’m not going to lie and say that I’ve completely dissolved those fears. I still get knots in my stomach when I’m gearing up for a long run, even now when I think about having to run 10 miles in a few hours. But I’ll also tell you this. It gets easier. The more I run, and with every step, that fear fades a little more. Sure, the first few miles are brutal (they always are), but then you find yourself in a rhythm, a “moving forward” motion that’s so beautiful, its almost poetic.
And then you realize something kind of great.
You’re strong. And you can handle a lot more than you give yourself credit for. And people look up to you. And you’re no longer terrified of lacing up those running shoes, because you know you’ll make it to the finish line. It’ll be hard. But you don’t care. Because you won’t let that fear get in the way of anything. Even if it hurts.