Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.” — Marie Curie

Happy Spring, Union Sisters and Brothers!

As a stuntwoman, I’ve spent a fair amount of time in the deep end. Literally and figuratively. A sink-or-swim environment excites me, and I work hard to ensure I’m never truly in over my head. Finding motivation in doing things that make us uncomfortable might sound paradoxical — we’ve been programmed to avoid the unknown. Fear invokes the flight-or-fight syndrome, and our first reaction is often to go back to our comfort zone. But what happens when we stick around and fight our fears?

We have all heard the saying, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” Turns out there is some science behind that statement. Stress is the disruption of homeostasis or your body’s state of equilibrium, and we’re designed to handle minor stress. In fact, your body has positive a response to minor stressors and responds by ramping up growth and repair, to bring you back to balance. Want to build muscle? Physical workouts actually rip the muscle tissue and our body builds it back stronger. Your brain also needs challenges to build new connections between brain cells.

When you throw yourself into something new, you’re forced to grow and adapt. Even if the project does not succeed, the act of taking on something challenging helps you develop new skills and mindsets. That’s how we win the battle against our disquietude. Not by eliminating it, but by understanding it. Exploring it. As people working in a creative industry, we have so many insecurities: fear of failure, not being accepted, missing an opportunity. Fear is a powerful instigator, but doubt can destroy motivation.
Listen to fear, but give an equal voice to experience, courage and talent.

I embolden these voices by training and doing the things I fear repeatedly in a controlled environment with teachers I trust. Over time, I’ve become accustomed to pushing myself to the limit; I can exist comfortably in extreme situations, an expectation of my profession. I still hear the voice in my head asking, “Are you insane?” But that’s now followed by another voice shouting, “Yep, and you’ve got this.”

You can’t stay in the deep end all of the time; you’ll eventually drown. And not everyone is keen to dive right in. When I’m working with actors as a stunt double or coordinator, I encourage them to approach their trepidation with small, safe, steps. As long as we’re moving forward. Whatever your pace, I challenge you to examine those foreboding feelings. That same sense of fear that keeps us alive also reminds us what it feels like to truly be alive.

Big or small, personal or professional, I hope you conquer a fear today.

Your veep,

Kirsten Foe

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