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Understanding and conquering your fears

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Latanya Reid
  • 6th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs
"You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do" -- Eleanor Roosevelt 

Do you know that everyday living with fear paralyzes our dreams and stunts our aspirations? Everyone, regardless of who they are or where they're from is terrified of something or someone. However, fear, is a feeling which can be conquered when understood. 

I have found that while growing up, many of the setbacks I've experienced were a direct result of being afraid -- afraid to take risks, to try new things or to live my life to the fullest. Then one day I decided to take the "bull by the horns" and live everyday like it was my last. 

Well actually, I was working in a dead-end job with little or no benefits. Then I decided to join the Air Force, which was pretty scary and shocked everyone I knew, including myself.
The first day of Basic Military Training tested my patience. There were training instructors screaming in my face, calling me names with the intention to break my nerves. 

Exercising three times a day and waking up at the crack of dawn was nothing short of crazy for someone who slept in until 10 or 11 a.m. 

For all who had experienced basic training and the daily tasks of making perfect hospital corners, keeping floors dust bunny free or cleaning the showers, a normally rudiment household chore became a mandatory duty. 

Every aspect of trying to make it into the U.S. Air Force was challenging and tested me to my breaking point which I had gotten to everyday at the crack of dawn as well as every time I had to do flutter kicks. 

However, the fears built up when the option of being recycled weighed against being kicked out. 

During the latter parts of the training one of the trainees in the squadron had a meltdown after she confessed everything depended on her making it through this training. 

This reminded me of my reason for enlisting; to not let fear get in the way of progress.
At the third week which was crunch time, suffering from a stress fracture, and very little sleep were added to an already tense environment. Yet we had to follow instructions from screaming, in your face training instructors and remain focused. I was broken and so were many of the trainees in my squadron some felt defeated and threw in the towel but others were determined and so was I. 

I t came down to the last week before graduation and we've made it this far there's no turning back. 

The physical training test was the remaining hurdle, the final frontier to basic training after which would have us closer to the next level before officially crossing into the blue.
Additionally, there was little or no fuel left in me to make a 2.5 mile run on a fractured foot with the sun beating mercilessly on my back. However, I felt a fire ignited in me when I thought that those before me went through the same routine. Fear would have to take a back seat. 

Starting out early was my strategy but then it began to backfire as my flight began to pass me by. I felt like quitting. The fight was gone until the last girl in the flight ran past me and told me to come on. 

Instantly, the push came back and before I knew it I was across the line and passed out in the grass. When I gained consciousness the first thought on my mind was whether I'd have to go through this torture again. But my name was never called which ensured that I had made the time. 

At the end of our training I looked back on my experiences and realized that I had just went through a fearful event. However, what was so fascinating was all who had made it through gained strength, courage and a greater appreciation for life from the experiences they shared. 

We took our fears and instead of letting it defeat us we took it and ran with it all the way to the finish line.