How to Light Yourself on Fire

Drawing by Patsie (Deviant Art)

You guuuuuyyyyyyysssss.THE SECOND HUNGER GAMES MOVIE COMES OUT TOMORROW. I’m so excited I might actually pass out. You best believe I’ve already secured my ticket for a 3:30 showing on Sunday with a handful of my lady friends. BYOPopcorn and Sour Patch Kids because I’M NOT SHARING. Deal with it.

To mentally prepare myself for the movie, and also because I completely lack patience when I’m this excited, I decided to re-read Catching Fire.

Naturally, I finished it in less than a day. But there was one quote in particular that snatched my attention and had me put my Kindle down long enough to scribble down some notes for this post:

"At some point, you have to stop running and turn around and face whoever wants you dead." - Katniss

Drawing by MartaDeWinter (Deviant Art)

OK, so maybe you're not being chased down by an axe-bearing tribute in a deadly arena. But maybe you have felt like you've been running away from facing one of your greatest fears. Maybe something more like unemployment, singledom, depression, weight gain, financial woes, illness, etc. Any of these sound familiar?

I'm going to deliver a harsh truth right now: That thing (whatever it is) will always be chasing you. It's a thing. It's never going to get tired. It's never going to stop. It will never go away on its own. And it will never stop being so scary... until you turn around and look it dead in the eye filled with confidence, strength, and the need to put an end to the chase.

That last bit is crucial. If you aren't fed up with the situation at hand and (more importantly) with the way you've been handling said situation up until this point, you aren't ready to face your fear and make the big changes in your life to defeat it. You have to be so sick of living in fear and being chased through life by this problem that suddenly you simply refuse to run anymore. Because you realize how incredibly stupid running has been so far.

The Nikki from a year or two ago was the kind of girl who just kept running. She kept hoping that things would work themselves out. Or maybe her fears would see just how determined she was to say a step ahead of them and just let her slip through the cracks. That girl, I have to say, was a first class idiot.

This year I got so fed up with the way I had been handling myself when it came to my career, personal relationships, and self-perception that I just stopped dead in my tracks, turned around, puffed my chest out, and ROARED as loud as I possibly could.

Effective? Not really. But it definitely had the element of surprise. I surprised everyone (including myself) by deciding to jump with reckless abandon into battle against these fears.

Of course, simply making the decision to face my fears didn’t make all of that happen. But change cannot happen until you make the decision to stop running away from everything. Change manifested itself (over time) in the form of quitting my desk job, launching my own digital strategy company, ending a long-term toxic relationship, and building a healthier lifestyle for myself.

And here’s what I learned from this year: facing those scary things (unemployment, heartbreak, insecurities, and harsh truths) won't kill you. Quite the contrary, my dears. Facing your fears will feel like the hardest things you've ever done in that moment, and yes you might walk away with some cuts, scrapes, bruises, and sprains...

Drawing by Curry23 (Deviant Art)

...But once you break past the pain barrier, into the land of recovery, and finally through releasing the situation? You come out a much stronger person on the other side who is no longer afraid. Yes, break ups are hard - but nothing will ever be worse than the first time you had your heart broken. Yes, unemployment sucks - but nothing will be more depressing than the first week of sitting on your couch in your underwear eating old Chinese food straight from the takeout container while obsessing over the lack of funds in your bank account.

Here's my takeaway from the Hunger Games: Nothing will ever haunt you the way the first kill does. Your first time is always the worst time. But now, for every other time that a conquered fear resurrects itself in your life, you are ready. Armed with the lessons only experience in survival can provide. Consider yourself a Victor or Career Tribute, if you will. Don't worry, you're in good company with Katniss, Peeta, and Haymitch. Yes, a second Hunger Games is terrifying – but not nearly as intimidating as the first time ‘round. Why?

Because you have caught fire. Your spark has been ignited. And the fear that once controlled you has been left burned to a crisp, powerless, lifeless, dead in the gutter.

Drawing by Patsie (Deviant Art)

So now I ask you - what are the fears that you are running away from? Do you feel yourself reaching your threshold for pain and suffering? Are you close to being completely fed up with yourself? GOOD! Channel it towards a change for the better. Harness the power that is surging in your veins and convert your fear into strength. Imagine using all those feels for GOOD instead of BAD. Take that first step towards a brighter, lighter you. And remember that as difficult as this may seem – it will get easier and you will absolutely, 100% survive this. You just have to want to survive it enough.

I’d love to hear your stories and thoughts on this piece! Please feel free to drop a comment below or leave me a note on my Facebook page.

Incinerating all my fears, xx Nikbear