Don’t Calm Yourself Down
Have you ever swam in a powerful current? Try to swim against it and you are powerless, burning energy, losing control, moving backwards. Swim with it and you become a force of nature.
Nobody’s fooling nobody. Hustling ain’t easy. You’re going to constantly face challenging obstacles that will make you uncomfortable. To get far, you will need to improve your skill of converting anxiety into a swelling source of power.
My years in college were pretty much a waste of my life. But there was one valuable lesson I learned that made that wasted time almost worth it. It was one short anecdote from my teacher in Speech class. Public speaking is a well known source of severe anxiety for people. To help deal with that anxiety, our teacher told us the anecdote of 2 boys sitting next to each other on a roller coaster. They are slowly climbing the initial ascent, before the big first drop and high speed twisting chaos. The buildings below are getting smaller as the boys slowly climb, and one boy tenses up shaking his head “NO NO NO NO NO NO NO”. The other boy next to him is alive on fire “YES YES YES YES YES”. Our teacher explained that if you analyze the brain chemistry of the 2 boys, the same chemicals are firing. They are experiencing the same emotions. The only difference between them is how they choose to respond to their emotions. One is trying to block the rush of energy and return to normal. The other is enjoying the rush, feeding off it.
The rush will come when something is a big deal. When you’re about to perform your first court trial. When you ambush a difficult to pin down businessman. When you’re about to get out on stage or out on the field. When you call a girl you’re excited about. The solution is NOT to pretend to yourself that it’s not a big deal, trying to feel normal. That’s fighting against a powerful current. That’s cutting yourself off from yourself. That’s LOSING control and moving backwards. Normal is gone. Cry about that if you want, it’s not coming back, accept it. The roller coaster is moving. What is natural now is excitement. Good. Excitement is so much more useful than indifference.
This IS a big deal. Harness that excitement. Don’t calm yourself down. Rile yourself up. Don’t block out the anxiety. Relax into it. Let it overcome you. You know how tense you feel when you really have to pee, but you’re holding it? Think of the rush of energy like that. But stop tensing up and holding back; let it all out. If you still have a little left inside, push that out too. You’ll feel numb for a moment, the rush of energy flows and tingles through to your fingers and down through your legs. Much of it soon dissipates and you are left on fire.
Now go kill ’em all
Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free.
– Jim Morrison, The Doors