Fear is a huge enabler. It can save us when we're confronted with a dangerous or unsure situation (fight or flight), it can also make us depressed, and complacent. Fear can also act as an intimidator that keeps us bound in careers with no future or even potential for fair compensation. More importantly, fear prevents change and growth from occurring. Just look at our government, with the continuous and inane bickering that accomplishes absolutely nothing! But I digress.
Today, I don't think anyone would ever call me a "Scaredy-Cat," though most of my life I've allowed fear to play a significant role in my personal development. In my early 20s I pursued dance as a profession, but fear of not being good enough eventually left me standing idle as the music played on. The same thing happened when I studied acting. I was really good at it, but lacked the courage to expose my emotional core and show my vulnerability. I tried the "fake it till you make it" approach and did manage to get cast as a drug-dealing escaped convict on America's Most Wanted. My character "conviction" just didn't resonate past that role with casting directors.
Even in past relationships, sexual and non-sexual, I was often too afraid to speak my mind for fear I would jeopardize my perceived harmonious bond and wind up alone. I honestly lost my voice and settled for less than I deserved. I told myself, "Oh, that cigarette smoke isn't really that bad" and "He only does that when he drinks." "The name calling just happens when he's upset (which seems like all the time)." I thought maybe I was the problem, and was afraid to admit my relationship at the time wasn't healthy. Fear gave me a new name: Mr. D. Ormat (doormat). Fortunately, I got help and left that life behind, and my courage was rewarded handsomely, in the form of my handsome partner Eric.
Fear can also be paralyzing. For most people our health is sacred and an unexpected diagnosis can literally make time stand still. That was exactly what happened to me. When I learned that I had prostate cancer, I felt time literally stand still. As the doctor spoke, his voice became a distant echo and I felt my heart pound. Overwhelmed, my mind raced with a myriad of questions and scenarios of the end of my sexuality and possibly my own mortality. I learned that by sharing my struggles with my friends, I was able to make the best decision for my health. It was also the right decision as my oncologist confirmed with my post follow up treatment.
So, on the verge of my 50th birthday and with all the fear-inducing cancer-metastasizing now luckily behind me, I'm done. I'm not afraid anymore. I'm done with letting fear take the energy from my soul and preventing me from moving forward. I often tell people that change starts in taking a new direction (physically and metaphorically). It's a scary concept but the possibilities become endless when you start. Now, I'm heeding my own advice and taking a different direction. I'm creating change.
So on the evening of Thursday, July 17th, I got a tattoo. Yes, I know anyone of legal age can get a tattoo, but for years I couldn't for fear of the loss in potential modeling gigs. Well, that boat has since sailed. I was accompanied by my fearless tattoo buddy and gal pal Roey. I kept my cool and composure for the 3 hours it took for Portland tattoo artist Rich Cuellar to ink my idea into reality. I won't lie, it hurt like hell and at times I wasn't sure if I was going be able to get through it. After the jaw-clenching ordeal was done, I was awarded with the most awesome of compliments. Rich called me a "Bad Ass" because I didn't flinch, winch, or faint from the pain. He later shared stories of some of the manliest of men passing out on the floor.
I had selected a tattoo that personifies my energy, represents my astrological sign, and symbolizes a directional shift in my life. Life really is too short. I'm in a bit of denial that I have managed to reach the half-century mark. Ironically, I've never been afraid of getting older. If we let fear prevent us from asking that guy or gal out for coffee, or speaking out against a self-serving friend, or the courage to find a job where you can be happy, it may be too late.
As for my tattoo, it's the head of a lion baring its teeth. Just remember to pet the cat nicely because he can and will bite!