Picnik founder Naomi Seifter on facing your fears

Airplane wing

I have a confession to make: I’m really scared of flying. Right now, I’m at 36,000 feet on a flight from SeaTac to Austin. I’ve got a talisman angel cherub resting on my lap. My heart is racing. My legs are shaking. My hands are clammy. My stomach is upset.

It’s 2am Central Time, but I’m wide awake and I feel like I am in a serious state of ‘fight or flight.’ I can’t sleep. All the physical signs that I am experiencing lead me to believe that my body is in a state of sheer panic. I practice alternate nostril breathing. I am chanting mantras on repeat and I’m meditating. I do all of this in hopes of gaining a second of calm while I am in the air. I pray to God and my angels for strength and courage with my palms facing towards the sky.

I have special crystals and worry stones in my purse, as well as some ashes from my grandparents that help me feel safe. I repeat “I trust in divine guidance, and I’m always safe” over and over again until my body and mind calm down. The flight attendant just gave me some gummy bears as an in-flight snack, and all of my will power and self-control go out the window as I indulge in a serious case of emotional eating.

I don’t regret it, as anything that can provide my mind with a second of calm is a welcome treat. There is nothing that seems to comfort me when I’m in the air, but I’m here, sitting in 8A, dealing with my anxiety as I dream of being in my bed with my puppies.

Even though it goes against all logic, I keep getting on airplanes. Although I’m sure that I lose a year off my life every time I fly, my flight schedule continues to get more concentrated and more frequent. My work is no longer confined to Texas as I’m needed in places all over the country. Last year alone, I visited over 20 states. My current plans for next year seem to indicate an even more aggressive travel schedule. Fuck.

The thing is, I’ve learned that in order to achieve the things I want to achieve, I have to show up in ways that cause me serious discomfort. This isn’t a lesson that is just applicable to flying, but it’s a lesson that has presented itself time and time again in my life and in my career. As an entrepreneur with a passionate purpose, I am constantly forced into positions that are uncomfortable. Running a business is wildly fulfilling, but it also challenges you to grow by forcing you to constantly deal with hard circumstances.

I often have to make decisions that hurt other people’s feelings. I have to deal with people not liking me. I have to fire people. I have to stand up for my business. I have to listen to horrible words spoken about me. I have to read painful reviews online. I have to make painful mistakes time and time again. It’s a tumultuous reality. But, if entrepreneurship teaches me anything, it’s that I have to do the sh*t that scares me.

Magic happens outside of your comfort zone. When you challenge yourself to do things that are difficult, you grow tremendously as a person. By saying ‘yes’ to things that scare me, I’ve developed skills I could have never imagined I would have. I’ve learned how to be a #bossbabe CEO of a company that employs 100 people and counting.

I’ve learned how to be a wizard in accounting. I’ve learned how to be a solid chef. I’ve learned how to be a barista. I’ve learned how to manage people. I’ve learned how to be a wife. I’ve traveled to places all over the world. I’ve learned how to run a restaurant. I’ve learned how to make a product and distribute it across the country. I’ve developed skills in industries that will fuel me with opportunities for the rest of my life. But, it has all happened because I’ve learned the value of forcing myself to thrive in uncomfortable situations.

So, in honor of our friends at Lululemon, go out there and ‘do one thing a day that scares you.’ Go out of your comfort zone and try something new. Your willingness to push yourself will lead you to expand your knowledge, and it will lead you to unprecedented levels of joy, fulfillment and purpose.

What you believe, you can achieve. It’s not always rainbows and roses to get to where you want to be. It’s often stressful, uncomfortable and painful. But, the same way you have to micro-tear a muscle to build it to become stronger, you have to put yourself in slightly uncomfortable positions to make you stronger and more versatile as a person. 

My mind is finally relaxing, and the people around me are asleep and calm. Writing this is just a reminder to myself as to why I show up to these flights time and time again. I’m willing to brave the storm to achieve my dreams, and I’d love to encourage you to do the same.