Below are the rambling wisdoms of my buddy and ex-nordic racer/forever nordic star Nick Underwood. In addition to his indubitable devotion to the spandex-clad lifestyle, Nick’s fearlessness in the face of grand physical, emotional or romantic challenges has awed onlookers for centuries. I asked if he’d speak to his methods, his answer follows.
Nick’s Guide to Dealing with Fear:
FEAR. The measly four-letter word synonymous with the certainty that you’re about to be devoured by the monster lurking in the depths of the long-fall outhouse. The inevitable feeling that the last thing you feel will be its foul breath on your pale white bottom and that the cute girl you’ve been trying to impress will hear of your wretched demise and nonchalantly return to making out with the vegan whose muscular calves make yours look like starving chicken pegs. Everyone fears something, whether it’s diminutive yet deadly dachshunds snarling through dilapidated fences, Donald Trump, or brain-devouring zombie sloths. But how should you deal with fear?
Phase 1: Admit that you’re scared, and use your fear as motivation.
People are usually more frightened of admitting their fears than they are of the actual things that frighten them. Look, if you admit you’re scared of oompa loompas, your friends will probably ostracize you a little bit. But really, on the grand scale of things to be scared of, oompa loompas are a pretty reasonable one. Those little critters are straight up creepy. If you’re telling me you wouldn’t freak out if you ran into one in a dark alley, you’re a liar.
An admission of fear is not a sign of weakness, but of strength. Confident people admit their fears, no matter how ridiculous they are, and use their fear as strength. If you listen to interviews with Olympic champions and successful entrepreneurs, one thing sticks out: Many of them talk about not wanting to let down their supporters, about not wanting to be ordinary, about their fear of failure. Many seem more relieved than ecstatic, as if they were motivated less by the desire to win than by the fear of failure.
I know what you’re wondering- how can I use my fear of oompa loompas to motivate me? Easy, during your next interval workout, just picture hordes of little orange spray-tanned men chasing you. And if the woman you’re dating is really your soul mate, she’ll share your fear, or at least find it endearing when you break down in tears during the chocolate river scene in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
Phase II: Confront your fears (sometimes).
“I was scared of pretty girls and starting conversations.” –Vance Joy
When your friends are pressuring you into approaching the cute girl with the dope pants and even doper dance moves, all you want to do is curl up into the fetal position. But don’t let fear control your life- I urge you to go unapologetically make an absolute fool of yourself. The ability to be confident in failure is huge (and attractive). Alpine climbers talk about their most rewarding climbs being “glorious failures”- not the ones where they summited under bluebird skies, but the times they faced heinous descents, the occasions where the mountain served up a humbling dose of absolute beat down. The greatest satisfaction in this life may be the experience of your worst fears being realized, and you realizing that you’re still alive, you’re still you, and you’re stronger. Committing to that line on your mountain bike, tumbling down the scree fields just like you envisioned in your nightmare, and realizing you only broke your femur, not your bike.
Tanner Hall hucked his meat and lived to…well, he lived. (Viewer discretion advised)
An important note- it’s important to distinguish between irrational fears and rational fears. I’m not advocating here for people to ride their Razor scooters off cliffs because they are scared of heights (despite the potential for a sweet edit, #footie). A healthy dose of rational fear is essential to the art of not being a jackass. An example of rational fear: perhaps if I take a selfie with that enormous buffalo, it will proceed to absolutely demolish my body (again, viewer discretion advised). These fears require acknowledgement rather than confrontation.
Some people spend their whole lives running from fear and avoiding the things that scare them. It’s a fact that change and commitment are scary. Successful people learn what scares them, figures out which of their fears are legitimate, confront the ones that aren’t, and use the ones that are to fuel them. So go talk to the cute girl, sit on the nebulous seat of the outhouse, make a calculated decision about whether to huck your meat off that scary kicker, and please, for the love of God, stay a respectful distance away from buffaloes. And oompa loompas.
Words: Nick Underwood
Mild censorship: -AP