Facing Fears

This time last week if you had asked me what my biggest fear was, I would’ve said elevators. There would’ve been no hesitation. I’m scared of a lot of things but top of the list was definitely elevators. Whenever I told anyone I always got “Oh did you have a bad experience in an elevator?” No. I truly don’t know what happened to make me so afraid of elevators.

Elevator

This week I finally conquered my fear of them.

You need to understand that for me that is probably one of my biggest achievements. I have been avoiding elevators for the past fuck knows how many years. When me and my friends stayed in Paris we chose an apartment where the staircase was locked from the inside so you could only go down them, not up them. The only way up was in the elevator. I would make my friends go up, come downstairs and open the door for me.

When me and my Mom went to Spain we were put in a room on the tenth floor. I walked up ten flights of stairs at least two times a day for the entire week we were there; there was absolutely no chance I was getting in an elevator.

I started working in an office building and found out I was on the sixth floor. Every day I had to walk up six flights of stairs for a minimum of four times a day because they decided that because I was the new girl I also had to be the post girl. My colleagues would ask me to come downstairs with them to shift heavy boxes and being afraid of the elevator was a massive inconvenience but I was adamant I wouldn’t change my mind about them.

Then something happened. Last week I told my Mom that for my 21st birthday present I wanted the two of us to go to New York. When I told her I’d prefer a smaller hotel to avoid my fear of lifts, she replied “Oh yeah you don’t like lifts. Well we’d better go somewhere else because it would be a bit of a waste on you.”

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I was gutted. I’d wanted to go to New York for ages and now she wouldn’t even consider taking me just because I was afraid of elevators? Something had to change.

For a couple of months I’d been pushing the door to the elevator, looking inside of it and then sighing as I headed for the stairs. My fear was so bad I wouldn’t even step inside to help a colleague shift a box in there in case the doors shut and it started moving. But I really wanted to go to New York and this fear had been ruining things for me for a while. I really wanted to conquer it but how?

Then I remembered something from when I was a kid. When I was maybe seven years old I went to swimming lessons once a week after school. One week we were taught how to do something new. We were still in the shallow end and we’d all learn how to swim sufficiently and now we were being taught how to sit on the side of the pool, kick off and start swimming straightaway. I sat on the side of the pool and wept because I couldn’t push myself forward into the pool. I was just too scared. I watched as the rest of the class did it and just cried because I couldn’t.

I went home and knew I’d have to go through the whole thing again next week. But I didn’t want to be scared. I wanted to do it! So the night before I had my swimming lesson I practiced in the bath. I sat on the edge of the bath and pushed myself in. I have no doubt I made the bathroom soaking wet but I’d done it. Now I just had to do it in the pool.

The next day I went in for my lesson and we started off with doing the kicking off thing. The teacher looked at me and said “Hollie, can you show us how to do it?” So I did. I kicked off from the wall and started swimming. Absolutely no problems and I wasn’t scared anymore.

So conquering a fear was a bit like that. I remembered that story while I was on my way back from my lunch break and decided to just do it. The elevator was already on the ground floor. I pushed the button, jumped inside and quickly whacked the button for the first floor. The doors closed and it started moving. I was absolutely shitting myself. The elevator went up and less than ten seconds later the doors opened again. Was that it? I looked at the buttons and pressed the sixth floor. It went up again. I’d done it.

I’ve done it every day since then. I’m not afraid to do it anymore. It took absolutely years but now I’ve officially gotten over it!

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The best news? Me and my Mom are planning our trip to New York.