Saturday 15 October 2011

What Are You Afraid Of? by Ginny Lennox

When I turned fifty I decided to change lots of things in my life. I decided that now was the time to try new things and so I started a journey down not one but many new paths. One of the things I wanted to do was to ski. I had only gone skiing once when I was twenty-one and it was a disaster. There were many reasons I had not gone again but let’s say one of the big ones was that I was afraid.

My husband had grown up skiing and was thrilled when I told him that I wanted to learn to ski. It became his mission to make sure that I had the best skiing experience ever. If having the right outfit made you a skier, I would have been a skier. If having the right equipment made you a skier, I would have been a skier. If having a kind patient husband to teach you what to do made you a skier, I would have been a skier. But for three years, none of these things worked.

It was on the third trip out west, when it was obvious that I wasn’t getting any better, that my husband told me that it was time to get someone else to teach me. He had made this suggestion over and over but I was really scared and I didn’t want another teacher because I trusted him and knew that he wouldn’t let me get hurt. But this time I had to agree that I need someone else’s help. That was when I met Inga.

When Inga walked up to me that day she immediately told Greg to go skiing and to have a great morning. As Inga and I walked off together, she asked me a very important question, “What are you afraid of?” I told her that I was terrified that I would get hurt. And then she said, “Now that I know what you are afraid of, I can help you.” Her husband had been an Olympic skier and had developed a method to teach people with disabilities to ski. Within hours I was skiing down the hill unassisted.

Every time we met I got better and my confidence grew. I would love to tell you that I became a really great skier but that would not be true. But I was able to enjoy skiing and Greg and I were able to enjoy the experience together which was so important. We still talk about all of the wonderful times we had skiing.

I have used this story when talking to large groups of students to remind them never to give up. I used my story to illustrate that if you have a goal you can reach it even if it takes a very long time. I have used this story when talking to parents who were bitterly telling me that their son or daughter just needed to try harder and when they did their grades or their life would get better. I told them that when I was learning to ski, I was trying. I was listening. I was doing my best but I was afraid and I needed people to continue to believe in me and support me in order for my dream to come true.

I know sometimes it is hard to take that first step or continue to take steps to make your dreams come true especially if you are afraid. If you can determine exactly what scares you, it will help to make that first important step easier. It may mean trying over and over again. It may mean reaching out to a stranger for help. It may mean asking for help and support from lots of people. But when I think about how beautiful it was to be able to ski at night under the stars or how much we laughed as I fell down and quickly got back up to go down the mountain just one more time, I know it was worth all of the effort.

If something is holding you back from reaching your dream ask yourself, “What am I afraid of?” The answer may help you to open the door to a whole new world.

Ginny Lennox believes that each and every day is filled with special moments. On her blog Special Moments In Time she encourages everyone to recognize and celebrate their own special moments. Ginny also believes that we are all creative and talented people. In her workshops, All About Me and Circle of Dreams, Ginny shares ways to discover your talents.


  1. Wonderful, Ginny. Your wise words are reminding me to take a look at something I've pushed aside. And you are reminding me to not put an expectation of instant success in the way of staying with my dream.

  2. Love this, Ginny! Thank you! It reminds me, too, to seek out the kind of help I need--someone whose help can encompass my fears or whatever else is real for me.