THE BLOG
01/27/2016 01:54 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Facing Your Fears

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My philosophy proves itself true all the time - every day has something valuable to offer. It can be a beautiful moment, information, a life lesson, or maybe a laugh.  Face that big thing you fear right now, and see how much smaller it looks behind you. Take care of that nagging issue, and you'll have a day with every one of those elements to tell your friends about.

Here's an example. France is replete with beauty, fascinating facts, laughs, and life lessons. Its governmental bureaucracy is also notoriously opaque, inept, gigantic, and exists to make your life miserable. I knew this, and was afraid to tackle a paperwork problem I had.

I avoided working on the issue, imagining dire consequences, all of which would be blamed on me, and cost me thousands to rectify. I let the fears stop me in my tracks.
 
I sought wise counsel, all of whom wagged fingers and assured me I was in deep trouble.

However, earlier this is the year I wrote up a motto to live by - "Through the eye of the needle to sew a new life." So, I assembled my documentation, and headed to the regional tribunal (they have scary words around here) to plead my case. I stopped at the bakery before leaving the village, for my comfort food, an almond croissant. Ordinarily, the baker is brusque, but when she heard what I was doing and saw my quivering lip, she patted my hand! There was my beautiful moment, that has probably marked a change in our relationship.

By the time I arrived, the office was closed. I had rushed out without make-up, so decided to head to Sephora where I asked a girl to apply some for me. I ended up with huge Groucho Marx eyebrows. Oh, great. With still another couple hours to wait, I availed myself of the big city opportunities and got my hair colored. My light brown hair turned into a black Trump Do. Oh no!

Finally, it was time. As I reached for the door handle, a guard opened the door and examined the contents of my purse. France is in a state of emergency these days due to terrorism. I thought it might be my own nervous perspiration that irritated my nose.  A number of anxious Middle Eastern faces around me may also have been responsible. I was told to advance to the desk when my turn arrived.

I explained the problem to the receptionist, showed my documents, and was expecting a "Madame, there is nothing that can be done. You must return to the USA and begin again." I was floored when she replied, "We will fix this problem immediately and notify you in two weeks." Perhaps she felt sorry about my giant eyebrows and unfortunate hairdo? Or, wanted me to leave quickly before they all burst out laughing? I didn't care. I thanked her profusely, and almost skipped out the door. 

Here's your information for the day, 35 percent of the French population is employed by the government. I would meet another one at the tollbooth on my way home; a customs inspector with a military gun was questioning everyone coming through.  After answering his questions, he responded, "I never would have guessed you are American; you sound and look French."  What were the odds, out of 21 million state workers, of meeting both an efficient administrator and a gracious man with a gun, both of whom are employed to keep foreigners under control?

You'll never know until you try.
 
So, face that thing you've been avoiding, have your ducks in a row, smile, perhaps paint huge eyebrows on, and then come back to tell your friends about your crazy day.