Pushing Through the Fear Barrier – Jessica de Bruyn’s Story

In this edition of the Healing Series, we’re featuring Jessica de Bruyn, Her fresh perspective and zest for life are refreshing and worth a read!

“Jessica and I have worked together for many years and her love for the written word has rubbed off on me and I am lucky to call her my writing coach, editor and friend.”     ~ Karla

“Because the things you’re scared of are usually the most worthwhile. Just a theory.” – Mandy Moore in Chasing Liberty

I already had an inkling of this philosophy in my mind when twenty-year-old me first watched the scene where Mandy Moore is about to bungee jump over a bridge in the early 2000 teen rom-com Chasing Liberty. But, it was articulated here so well: showing both the excitement of doing something crazy and the absolute fear of taking that first step, that has always stuck with me. 

I wouldn’t say that I am an especially adventurous person on a day-to-day basis. I live with a pretty high level of anxiety, have a practical mind, and wouldn’t label myself as a true thrill-seeker. 

But, I have come upon a few different moments in my life when this quote has come in especially handy. I have hopped on a bus with two suitcases to study acting in New York City. I have worked on cruise ships in the middle of the Caribbean. I have solo traveled through parts of South and Central America and Europe. 

And while some of the decisions I made from the influence of embracing my fears have sometimes left me bruised and even a little broken, I am still certain that each of those adventures was well worth it.

The first big risk that I ever took was that move to study acting in New York. This was a dream that had been at the top of my bucket list since I was fourteen and I finally got the chance to go when I was in my late twenties, after completing my master’s in Vocal Performance. I got the chance, as long as I forked over $30,000USD a year for tuition, plus the living expenses of NYC.

But, I was determined to see it through. I took out loans and had multiple fights about what a mistake I was making with my far-more-sensible-than-me parents. I found a place to live and headed to the city, not knowing anyone or what to expect.

For the next eight months, I relished living in the city of my dreams. I would spontaneously see a Broadway show in the evening, I would spend weekends in quirky bars in the Village or on the Lower East Side, and spend days just walking through iconic neighbourhoods. 

Meanwhile, school was not the experience I was hoping for. I struggled, failed, and eventually was not welcomed back. And after the first session was over, I was forced to go home with my tail firmly planted between my legs.

So, why am I telling this story as my example of taking chances and doing what you are scared of? 

Because this was the experience that taught me that I could bounce back and move forward from even the very bottom of failure. And I could do it without regret and without burying myself in “what ifs” or disappointment.

When I got home, within a month, I was applying for my next adventure. I was ready to think bigger and braver. And I have done many amazing things because of that first experience of taking a terrifying leap. 

And I am excited to see what might come next.

“I have done many amazing things because of that first experience of taking a terrifying leap.”

By Jessica de Bruyn a freelance writer, editor and writing coach living in Toronto. While she loves home, this is the longest she has stayed in Canada in two decades and she is longing to get back to exploring the world as she creates new stories.

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