Look Fear in the Face and Kick

Sink or Swim


You’ve heard the adage, sink or swim. It’s a phrase often shared when one is facing something difficult, be it a choice, future, task, or survival. When we find ourselves with little recourse in life, sometimes all we have left is to take a leap of faith.

Sink or swim is a simple, to the point, and powerful statement. It offers only two choices – success or failure. It’s also an affirmation of what each of us is capable of doing.

I left home before the age of eighteen under difficult circumstances, moved to the city, thirty minutes from my home, and rented a one-room apartment. My apartment, situated on the top floor, consisted of a bedroom, unheated kitchen (unless you counted the oven) and a shared bathroom across the hall in an old, rundown house. Located in a “bad” section of town it was, thankfully, close to city transportation.

At seventeen, in school with only a part-time job, I was on my own, and anything after that was my doing. I could either wither under the pressure, let fear paralyze me, or soar under the wings of freedom. I could either sink or swim. I chose the latter.

I learned about public transportation, memorized the bus schedule, and discovered the power underneath my legs. If the bus didn’t go in my direction, my legs did. I penny-pinched and learned the value of a dollar. I studied hard, made friends, and fought back the fear of unchartered territory with determination and confidence I didn’t feel until much later.

Eleanor Roosevelt said, “We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face… we must do that which we think we cannot.”

Two years later, I would graduate nursing school, marry, and begin a family. To this day, it was one of the greatest experiences of my life and left memories that still bring a smile to my face. At seventeen, I looked fear in the face and I kicked.

“Faith is believing that one of two things will happen. That there will be something solid for you to stand on or that you will be taught to fly.” Unknown


18 thoughts on “Look Fear in the Face and Kick

  1. Yup, been there done that. With Dad dead when I was 7 and Mom when I was 16, I went to live a brother and his family. He had his own family to take care of so I left after high school gaduation. Couldn’t start college fo five years later due to Vietnam. Great start for self-reliance and the quest to regain illusions shattered and innocence lost in the war and the political consequences. It’s all in the memoir.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I understand the impact a loss of a father can have on an individual. I lost mine at the age of five. It sounds as if we are kindred spirits. I do believe, however, the roads we travel are those we are meant to travel (for whatever reason) and I know, I am a stronger person for doing so. You should be proud of the strength, courage, and perseverance. It has made you who you are today. Let me also, take this time to say, Thank you, for your service to our country. It was a difficult and tragic war. Nevertheless, you stepped up. I am profoundly thankful to all the service men and women who do so every day to help keep us safe and preserve our freedoms. Thanks for stopping by the Cow Pasture, taking the time to read, comment, and contribute.


  2. You kept your feet strong to the ground AND you flew with your strength, courage, and perseverance. I love these personal stories, because I believe that we learn so much from each other. And also, it’s good to be reminded that we are the wind beneath our wings. We just need to keep flapping. Wonderful!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Perseverance is an often-overlooked virtue, sometimes confused with stubbornness (or just plain pig-headedness). Nonetheless, almost nothing worthwhile was achieved without a generous helping of it. I’m glad you persevered.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Peter. Most of the time sharing those personal stories is difficult, but once in a while I just feel it’s the right time. Maybe it’s meant for someone. I’m glad you were inspired. Thanks for reading and commenting.


Tell me your story.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.