Rambling #14 – The F Word – F.E.A.R

What does the F Word F.E.A.R mean to you? When confronted, how do you deal with it?

Option 1 – Accept it as “False Evidence Appearing Real” aka are you making it bigger in your head than it is?? Why fear if you have Plan B.. maybe C, D, E, F too?
Option 2 – Face Everything And Rise
Option 3 – Forget Everything And Run

Do you FIGHT or FLIGHT? How do you choose?

This F word seems to be making a constant appearance in my mind recently. As part of Protégé programme, I had the privilege of recently attending the Raising Resilience Workshop ran by Imogen Maresch of Presence of Mind. Even though I missed half of the workshop, I’m glad I made it because coincidentally, it was an AHA event for me; as if it was explaining to myself in simplistic terms on how my mind works & how it has adapted to cope with stress & fear just as I was reflecting upon my own transformation.

Without the workshop, I don’t think I could have answered the way I did to the questions – First  from my Protégé peers, then to my neighbours at my neighbour’s BBQ last weekend.

  • “Why do you choose the adventures you chose?”,
  • “Were you ever afraid? The (yacht) racing, climbing & whatever else you do!”
  • “What goes through your head when …………?”,
  • “How do you choose what is next?” 
  • “Are you a professional in ………. ?”
Mar’18 – My 1st proper ~800nm offshore race – My skipper said something along the lines of “I put you in this position because I know you’re a capable lady who won’t fall off and die because the tether is for pulling out the dead body (in the context of speed on water).

Not to be confused, I rarely speak about what I do as my main profession, my job because this is my personal space, hence, its called a Personal Blog. I accommodate but I don’t mix & both worlds operate within the same set of principles – “I work like party, I party like I work.”

To give a bit more context, we haven’t really hung out & had a proper conversation since January. It’s the first time after many months that we’ve all connected. The questions didn’t occur in sequence but I realised later that evening after the BBQ, they were all of the same theme. It took me some unscrambling before it made more sense that I felt strongly about the subject & decided THIS SHOULD BE MY NEXT BLOG POST!

Feb’19 – Lacie lead climbing while I belay her from below. I’m so far away that she can’t even see me. (Photo credit: Jamie R.)

Coach Jamie said to me “Regardless of whether you are at 50m high or 100m high, FEAR is FEAR. The feeling of fear doesn’t change & it is what keeps you alive. You can’t change your fear but you can manage your mindset towards fear & keep moving on.”

So, to put it simply in my mind and then translated to Imogen’s Raising Resilience workshop, its actually pretty easy. It is all about conditioning your mindset. I have always believed in the Power of Visualization since my tennis training days. This is a technique used by sports professionals, psychologists, TEDex speakers & etc. Like all muscles, the brain is also a muscle. The more you practice, the better & easier it gets until it becomes part of you… instinctive & habitual. There is no short cut unless something is missing in your brain (almost like a disability) like stuntmen & F1 drivers (you can do your own research… just ask Google!)

Feb’19 – My vertical journey to the top with Matt on belay & yes I made it.
(Photo credit: Jamie R.)

I have simply learned to Acknowledge my feelings (why am I afraid? what do I fear?), Observe the situation, then Snap & Act! When you’re hanging on the mountain with a pair of ice axes & tied to a rope, it is not so easy to flee but learn to face it… stop breathe, figure out your next foot hold & next pick. In Imogen’s workshop, she presented it as ROI – Recognise, Observe & Interrupt. Then, there is the power pose that she taught. To me, I stick with The Power of Visualization because this is what I’m familiar with & it instills my self confidence throughout with proven results. I have to “see & feel” it before I can “act & believe” in it just like storytelling with LEGOs in the boardroom until someone said, “We better stop now before Xjilien takes over the boardroom with her LEGO empire!” 

It also doesn’t mean I am surpressing my emotions & feelings. I will always have my own fears & insecurities just like writing this blog right now. But because I see the greater good & have Plan B, C, D, E, I no longer feel my fears & insecurities as great as I used to.

11 Oct’18 – A few hours before I nearly died at Mera High Camp (~5800m)

Moreover, I think what is truly pivotable in the “UPGRADED” me, Xjilien 2.0 is having faced with DEATH, everyone’s greatest fear, right? I could have died on 11 Oct 2018 8:xx pm Kathmandu time from being blown off the cliff in my tent at ~5800m altitude. You only know your true self when you’re stripped off everything to just your soul on your shoulders. You exist today but may not exist tomorrow. If you don’t live the life you want to live today because of the fearful F word F.E.A.R then when? This is something I truly appreciate from my family, too. The theory of impermanence. The believe of nothing is forever besides your true love – whatever & however you define love. Life is nothing but a journey together. Then, Death is nothing so scary but part of lifecycle just like your car & iPhone. So what’s so scary that stops you from pursuing whatever you want to pursue? It is as scary as what you make out of it in your head. So do the risk assessment, identify what are the actionable next steps & if you can manage the risk, then pursue it fearlessly. If you’re wrong, then oops… Accept, learn & try again. If you don’t have a second chance, then TOO BAD! Accept it! You are your own greatest BS & I’m fed up of being my own greatest BS!

This is also why I feel AWESOME today. I’m living & loving my second childhood with lots of badassary on boats & helicopters from the seas to summits because I realised I’m still the same little girl who once upon a time climbed lamp posts before she could even hit tennis balls (but sadly, she got lost somewhere in her own BS for few years)!

Once upon a time, I disappeared from the tennis courts while the adults were having a doubles match. Upon realisation that I was missing, I could see my uncle & aunt opening the green garbage bins almost the size of me, 1 by 1, thinking I was playing hide’n’seek in 1 of them. I could see my parents divide & conquer outside the tennis courts – Mom went to the clubhouse, Dad went into forest. Then, everyone came back at some point to call off the search party, spoke with security & nearly called the police. That’s when I realised  I should stop my monkey business atop the floodlight. Like a lil cheeky monkey frantically waving with 1 hand & 1 hand tightly wrapped around the lamp post, I yelled, “HEY I am UP HERE!”. Their tiny winy stunned faces looked up & I could see that they were so amazed & confused that they were just speechless. They didn’t know if they should scream at me with anger or be concern about my safety. Eventually Mom yelled back, “Are you OK? Can you please come down now?? We are going home!!!” I slid down like a professional fireman & was absolutely surprised that I didn’t get told off or punished for my monkey business… haha… In fact, they were very curious how I got up there. I said I climbed. There’s a lamp post, I got bored & decided to climb. Yes, just climb. Was there fear? Nope… #Truestory… Dad continues to tell this story to everyone today.

I’m not sure how my parents missed cultivating my climbing talent but that’s OK, I don’t think it’d be sustainable if I achieved great success from a very young age with my immature unwise mindset. It is best that I progress stage by stage, through my own failures & life lessons before I achieve anything greater than greater self before.

So what do I do when confronted with the F word F.E.A.R? Instinctively, it is

Option 1 – Am I making the F word bigger through my own imagination than it is? 

And then,

Option 2 – Face Everything And Rise! 

Do watch Free Solo because Alex Honnold spoke about F.E.A.R in the context of life & death & pursuing excellence to the point of perfection (because there is no second chance!) . And last but not least, if I can get to where I am today, so can you. It’s not about the money but what you truly want & how you make the most out of it. I’m not there yet but 100x better than before. I’m self funded since I was 18 years old (besides tuition fees) so I live life on my terms. Just be fearlessly brutal about your mission from the bottom of your heart! You can’t go too wrong with the right intentions. People may not know everything (& they don’t need to) but the ones who truly care & with whom you’re truly connected with will feel your vibe. Plus your angels are always watching! So I hope you F it, & just do it smartly! ❤

Nov’17 – Mom’s 3 Passes Dream in Nepal. It’s her dream but she FEARED she couldn’t do it at 60 years old until she did it.

“I’ve done a lot of thinking about fear. For me the crucial question is not how to climb without fear-that’s impossible- but how to deal with it when it creeps into your nerve endings.”

Alex Honnold

PS: I didn’t start sailing & mountaineering until 2014/2015 when I decided to change the way I live. Besides my adventures, I also bought my 1st property which I have just collected my keys after 3 years of waiting. Exciting times ahead & truly a new beginning! Allez GO, Xjilien 2.0!!!

Jan’15 – Learning to sail together from 2014 to 2015 with Mobike co-founder when Mobike was about 6 months old. We were in some crazy storm where we were all puking our heads off. What better way to learn! “Calm seas never made a good sailor!”

4 thoughts on “Rambling #14 – The F Word – F.E.A.R

  1. You are a very brave and incredible woman! I’ve been thinking about fear a lot lately too. My ex-husband was killed in a jet boating accident a couple of weeks ago. He loved racing and all sorts of high speed activities. He was really safety conscious too. But a tiny part failure caused the steering to lock and they crashed. He was killed instantly. I keep wondering if he was scared when he realized they were going to crash, whether he knew he was going to die. How it can be possible that he was here one minute and gone the next. It’s hard to come to terms with. The only consolation I have is that he was doing what he loved. No one was at fault. It’s still hard though. But as you say, death is part of life. We must all meet our end sometime. It’s so final though. Very hard to come to terms with. I think I’m more fearful now. Xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Viki thanks & big *HUGS*! Wow I didn’t know he’s your ex-husband. I recall reading about it on your post. He sure lived his life to the fullest (not just his racing but also his outdoorsy business that you told me about right?). Sadly, it all ended a bit too early. Look we don’t know when we’re going to die & so death shouldn’t be the excuse of living in FEAR. It should be the excuse of living life to our highest potential because death is the final invisible inevitable deadline. I think you’re only part-time fearful because knowing you, you’ll rise above it, fight the fear & be the greater good of this whole incident! ❤ xxx

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Xjilien, I’ve just come across this blog post. I’m so glad the workshop on resilience resonated with you – It certainly sounds like you are the embodiment of resilience in action and managing to balance a life of bravery and brilliance in equal measure. You are a real inspiration.
    All the very best and continue to embrace the greater good in all your future adventures.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Merry Xmas Imogen. Wow how did you find my blog… I’ve stopped writing in 2020.
      Thank you for your coaching & very nice meeting you! Take care & keep spreading those good vibes! Xx


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