Anna Nugent

I’ve always been afraid of speed. I remember being thrilled with the new state of the art roller blades I bought with my high school graduation money, I was so excited. That excitement faded to fear very fast on my first time out. Somehow I had never learned how to stop properly. Anytime I gained what I felt was too much speed, i.e. I didn’t feel in control, I would veer off into the grass and usually fall down to stop. I nearly gave myself whiplash. I had the same experience when I was learning how to downhill ski as an adolescent – I ended up going down the hill on my bum with my ski tips dutifully pointed in towards each other to create a pie shape, the beginner’s breaks. Perhaps my only experiences going with the flow and “embracing speed” are the times I’ve ridden roller coasters, but one of the only ways I can get through that experience is by telling myself “this will be over soon.”

Where did this fear of being out of control come from? It doesn’t just affect my speed, it permeates all areas of my life, from drinks to acting. I did break my nose when I was around 9 years old, riding on an adult’s back who was on all fours goofing around and bucked me off smack dab on my nose. That 4th of July I watched the fireworks with an ice pack on my nose. Maybe that is how I learned that to be out of control leads to pain. Either which way, I’m now learning the difference, especially in my acting work, that letting go of control and lack of physical safety are not the same thing. My acting work thrives when I do the prep work (safety) and then abandon control and play in the moment. I may not be able to do it every time (that is where doing the prep work comes in handy) but I’m increasingly able to do it more often. I wonder if there are other areas where I may be limiting myself by my need for control. Fast success scares me too. There are so many dreams I have and would love to have them come true right this moment, but that would also terrify me – “What if I’m not ready, what if other people couldn’t handle it, what if I had to step up, what if it stops before I want it to, what if, what if, what if?” Instead I want to say, “I’m ready, bring it on. Fast or slow, I am open to success. I am open to being safely out of control.” More and more I believe that is exactly where the magic happens.