I Can’t Let Fear Dictate My Next Steps

Sean Baumstark avatar

by Sean Baumstark |

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There is a first time for everything, right? That’s a phrase I often hear and it is true. A baby’s first words, a teenager’s first driver’s license, a first speeding ticket, a first kiss, a first house … the list is endless.

A first broken bone or a first flat tire are accidental. Other firsts are intentional and occur because we take action or execute a plan. Consider someone paying off student loans or launching a business — such things don’t happen accidentally.

Many firsts are scary and seem out of reach. I was scared my first semester of college and doubted I would earn a degree. I also remember needing to buy my first car and feeling as if I’d never be able to afford it.

First airplane flights can be unnerving. First job interviews (and probably all subsequent ones) can be nerve-wracking.

Some things might become less daunting over time, or when we engage in them more often. The first time I spoke in front of a group, I was so nervous I found it hard to breathe. After years of practice, speaking in front of groups is now one of my favorite things.

Taking that first step can be the hardest thing about moving forward. We are often paralyzed by fear. Fear of failure, fear of loss, and fear of pain often top the list of reasons we hesitate or avoid taking certain actions.

We might fear losing our money, getting an “F” on our work, or losing friends. Whatever the case, our concerns are natural and reasonable. But just because something is reasonable doesn’t mean it is sensible.

It can help to keep two things in mind: the endgame and your reasons. Sometimes those go hand in hand; sometimes not. Whatever the case, consider the endgame and the purpose of facing the fears.

For the past month, I have been surrounded by nurses, occupational therapists, and physical therapists. I have had physical help within earshot, a call button at my fingertips, and three meals a day delivered to my bedside table. Last week, I was given a discharge date and told insurance was done paying for my rehabilitation program.

That meant I’d be leaving the comfort of 24-hour care, and the consistent, intentional help of physical therapy.

For the first time, I’d be on my own with a fractured femur and the use of a walker and a wheelchair. I’d have to figure out what to do in the absence of curb cuts and handrails. All things I’m having to consider firsthand, for the first time.

A part of me wishes I could persuade insurance to leave me in rehab while my body heals. But I know that is mostly driven by fear — fear that I might hurt myself again or impede my own recovery. Although legitimate, if I allow my fear to keep me confined to the safety of my own bed, it wouldn’t be reasonable to expect a speedy or complete recovery.

As afraid as I am of leaving the comfort of the hospital, navigating airports, airplanes, and figuring out what is safe, I’m keeping my endgame in mind.

If I don’t take these first steps now, I may find excuses to keep myself from bouncing back.


Friedreich’s Ataxia News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.


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