Being afraid is normal. Fear could stem from not wanting to get your heartbroken, or from a simple fear of spiders. Facing fears can help enrich life and can change a person’s way of thinking, according to the Anxiety Disorders Association of British Columbia.
The Doc Project on CBC Radio launched a podcast in October of last year called, ‘Facing your fears, one trigger at a time.’ Sophie Kohn, writer and managing editor of CBC’s Comedy website, made an appearance on this episode. She discussed the transition from being a passionate ballet dancer to a person who was afraid to take dance, all because of an operation to treat her scoliosis condition.
Kohn used ‘the methods of exposure’ to help her face her fear and get her back to what she cared more than anything: dance.
According to AnxietyBC, facing a fear is all about exposing yourself to it. This method needs to be planned, prolonged, and repeated.
In the podcast, Kohn talks with Acey Rowe, The Doc Project’s host, about how facing her fear changed her life. Since Kohn was five years-old, she always loved dance – especially ballet.
“My mom had taken me to see a production of The Nutcracker, and it was sort of one of those moments where everything in the room slows down and your life purpose suddenly becomes excruciatingly clear,” said Kohn.
She enrolled in ballet classes but at around age 11, she felt severe pain in her back and legs. Her mom and dad took her to see an orthopedic doctor.
Kohn was told she had a severe form of scoliosis and needed surgery.
“I remember feeling frustrated during this conversation between the doctor and my mom because no one was addressing the only thing I cared about, which was dance,” she said.
After a short time recovering from surgery, Kohn tried to get back into her routine of dancing the way she used to, but soon realized she couldn’t. It was impossible for her to bend since a steel medal rod had been placed in her spine.
Fifteen years later, Kohn was in her office at CBC, writing and performing comedy for CBC’s radio station.
“I was so sensitive about the topic of dance. I couldn’t hear about anybody dancing, I couldn’t talk about it,” said Kohn.
One day, in the office next door, she heard a woman talking to someone about how The National Ballet offers public dance classes to anyone – experienced or not.
Kohn was afraid to enroll herself because she couldn’t dance the way she wanted to.
“My body was deciding for me and I was suddenly on the internet registering for this ballet class,” she said.
The rituals of ballet, such as, putting on the shoes, and tying her hair up in a certain way, gave Kohn a feeling of calmness before the first class started. As classes continued, there were certain ballet moves she was restricted from doing because of the metal rod in her spine. This made her fearful and frustrated.
“I had moments in class where I would ask myself, ‘What am I even doing here? What am I trying to prove? It’s not going to work, why am I doing this?’, she said.
Kohn repeated the routine of attending classes to expose herself to the fear of ballet. A decade in a half of not doing what she loved made her fear dance, but using AnxietyBC’s method of planning, prolonging, and repeating a fear gave her this feeling of accomplishment which ultimately changed her life.
“I’m not afraid in the way that I was. It was sort of this door I couldn’t open for 15 years and it was this place I couldn’t go. And then, I was surprised and proud of myself because I did it,” said Kohn.