Monday, March 21, 2011

Fear of Flying

Have you ever been afraid of something that you knew was harmless? I've never been afraid of rats or spiders, or speaking in public, or getting in fights. I am afraid of heights sometimes; when I lean over the railing of a freeway overpass, I get vertigo and have to step away from the edge. It doesn't matter if I'm in a situation where I wish to be looking tough, or if I am feeling otherwise happy or carefree... it doesn't matter. I still get a rapid heartbeat and feel light-headed.

A lot of people have a fear of flying. Smart people. They know perfectly well that flying is orders of magnitude safer than driving. It's probably even safer than walking, depending on how you measure these things. One might as well have a fear of being struck by lightning in broad daylight. And yet, as the engines power up and the plane turns the corner on the tarmac, first in line for takeoff, hands grip the armrests with knuckles white and stomach queasy.

Flying is unnatural. Getting inside a big aluminum tube and jetting quite suddenly up to several hundred miles an hour and leaving the surface of the earth and ascending to a height five or six miles : this is not "natural." So it's not crazy at all to feel a quaver in your stomach.

Now I personally happen to love flying. I'm one of those people that enjoys turbulence. It feels like Disneyland to me. And when a big jumbo jet is ladling itself belly-down at landing, and a gust of wind makes it rock and dip like a baby's cradle, I get a big smile on my face. I just think jets are cool, I guess.

Still, I can't claim I've never felt afraid in a plane. Small planes in Africa or South America can be pretty dodgy. And most people have had at least one flight in a jumbo jet that was pretty freaky. When the jet drops a dozen feet in a split second, it's hard not to grip the arm-rails.

***

Even the most practiced players get a little knot of stomach-quease from time to time when approaching a smoking hot girl.

It's simply not natural to see a pretty girl that you've never seen and then start talking to her out of the blue. What I mean by "not natural" is that it never happened in the ancestral environment of humans, and it almost never happened even after the dawn of civilization. Most people lived hunter-gatherer lives, until the point at which most people lived agricultural lives. In neither case did one suddenly see a beautiful, fertile woman that one had never seen before.

Approaching a woman and getting shot down can be fatal for a man who lives in a band of 50 people, or a village of 300. The damage it does to one's status and reputation could scare away potential friends and potential mates. When your body gets all clammy or tight when you try to approach a beautiful girl, that's perfectly natural. That's your body, trained by generations of living in small groups, telling you to eject, eject!

But just because something isn't "natural" doesn't mean it isn't good. Airline travel is not "natural" either. And you can get pretty damn far by overcoming your fear of flying. A journey that took months by wagon, or 7 days by car, can be over in one evening. You can go places you could never have gone without the plane, if you just bite the bullet, get on board, and strap in.

If you overcome your fear of approaching a beautiful woman, you can do and see and achieve things that would never be possible if you had heeded your merely physical sensations of anxiety. It's natural to feel uncomfortable, just like it's natural to feel uncomfortable in an airplane. But you're a man and you suck it up and reap the rewards.

One of the biggest lies is that players never feel nervous or anxious. Not true. Players simply know how to confront their own fears, face them down, and reap the rewards. If you want to be a true master, you will learn to enjoy the fear. The fear tells you that you're doing something. You're going somewhere. People who sit on the ground don't feel the fear of flying. Only people who fly feel that sensation. If you feel the fear, the anxiety, the nervousness... you're on the right track.

Eventually, you come to enjoy the feeling. It's still vaguely traceable back to its roots as anxiety, but it becomes more of a thrill, more of a feeling of excitement, more of a rush. Like when my plane is rocking around in the air madly and I have a shit-eating grin on my face, because it's actually pretty fun.

You want to be that man with women.

5 comments:

  1. awesome post! I forced myself to go skydiving b/c I knew I was shit scared of it. this is a great mindset for approaching women, never thought of it in this way.

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