I’m currently on a flight to Denver (to take a sunrise yoga class at Red Rock Amphitheater—more on that later!), and I was catching up on my magazine reading when something in the latest issue of O, The Oprah Magazine really resonated with me. The theme for this issue is breakthroughs, and one of the essays was written by a woman named Beth Levine who’s afraid of flying. After years of trying to force herself to overcome her fear (and guilting herself about all of the wonderful life experiences she was missing out on because she couldn’t board a plane), Levine eventually realized that her phobia wasn’t the problem—her attitude about it was.
“Everyone has a screw loose somewhere, and having a thing about planes happens to be mine,” she writes in the essay. Once the writer came to realize that there were other ways she could embrace new experiences that didn’t involve having a panic attack during landing and takeoff, she stopped feeling like she was missing out—and started taking advantage of other novel opportunities, like performing with a community theater.
“Life wasn’t passing me by because I couldn’t get on a plane,” she writes. ” It was passing me by because I was obsessing about what I couldn’t do instead of rocking the things I could.” It’s not just the breakthrough that really struck me, though—it’s how Levine says she felt in the years before she got to this breakthrough: “Along with fear came self-loathing: I was defective, weak, chickenshit. Why could everyone else just do this?”
I think we all have that thing (at least one) that we feel like “normal” people don’t have an issue with. For some people, it’s drinking in moderation. For others, it’s losing weight or controlling their spending habits. For me, it’s eating “like everyone else”—intuitively, and in a way where food doesn’t ever have the power to ever make me feel bad about myself. I’m working on it (which is why I devote a lot of time on this blog to things I think are helping me get closer to that goal!), but one of the factors that’s been a big source of comfort in this journey is knowing that everyone has their own loose screw that they struggle with. That doesn’t mean there’s anything nothing wrong with you—dealing with adversity (no matter what it is) is just part of being human.
Here’s hoping that this helps you make your own mini-breakthrough with whatever your loose screw is—I know I’m going to think back on it the next time I start to get down on myself about mine.
Photo by Janus Bahs Jacquet