‘Why fear won’t stop me on the biggest night of my life’
I am writing this from Canberra airport. Tonight is the launch of Channel Nine local news, a project we have been working on for months.
For me it has been a whirlwind month and if I had the time to think about it perhaps ‘fear’ would have controlled my ability to say ‘yes’ and cease the opportunities that have come my way.
When I was about ten years-old, Craig Huggins a popular Melbourne radio identity was broadcasting on the then 3XY. There was no way I could ever talk on the radio. I also feared flying: dreams of planes crashing were common, yet ten years later, white-knuckled I was flying to Alice Springs for my first on-air radio gig at SUN FM.
Since then I have become a junkie for fear. I have traveled to about 70 countries, stood on top of mountains, flown in helicopters and planes barely big enough to stand in.
Perhaps the most astounding career path was my move to television, pushing myself to the limit. The first day I stood in front of the ABC News Breakfast camera my head was spinning. I couldn’t even see the auto-cue, I was going to faint but somehow I survived, ad-libbing through that first weather report, adrenaline pumping… adrenaline soon became an addiction.
Then five months ago I found myself at a loss. Eight years of 3:30am alarms and the inability to grow beyond weather presenting had me questioning my own ability. The thought of going into another year at this level made me feel empty and frustrated.
I had spoken to Channel Nine about another weather role, it made sense, after all it was ‘easy’ for me, I knew my topic, but where was the challenge? Where was the fear?
I had been contemplating a trip to Iceland, after that initial conversation I booked a flight and left. I wanted to get up close to glaciers, trek remarkable landscapes but more importantly feel free.
I set off on a 20-kilometre hike through some of Mother Nature’s finest, to the top of the infamous volcano, the one that stopped the world in 2010, Eyjafjallajökull (I still can’t pronounce it!).
The first few kilometres were easy, hiking through lush green bush but as I neared the top, the landscape changed. Small glaciers , confluence of rivers, paths barely wide enough to walk along, and an unforgiving valley drop.
What I saw at the top was mind blowing. Blasts from the eruption had created two brand new craters. That afternoon a fresh layer of light powdery snow blended with black ash and red dust, freezing winds harshly blowing over a Mars-like universe. I breathed in the clear air and reminded myself how lucky I am.
If I let fear take hold I wouldn’t be standing right here, experiencing this amazing planet. I flew back to Melbourne, made a phone call and was offered a new role — anchor of Channel 9 News, Southern News South Wales, I cried, to think someone beyond myself believed in me.
The past month I have found myself travelling to regional centres, I’ve been spat on by a giraffe, scrapped melted tar off a tyre in high heels and 38 degree heat, tasted some of the finest produce and heard some amazing stories from incredible people.
Despite fear of not being good enough, of comparing myself to others, I have seized the opportunities of early morning news and panel-style commentary, I have spoken to journalists and been put on the spot by radio presenters. I have let go of fear and with both hands have grabbed hold of every opportunity.
Last night I took some time out. Soaking in bubbles I reflected on the past, thought about the future and realised that whilst there is a lot riding on the success of tonight’s launch it’s more important to enjoy the moment.
As my yoga teacher would say, “What’s the worst thing that can happen, you fall and pick yourself back up”.
Originally published at http://honey.nine.com.au/2017/02/06/14/31/vanessa-o-hanlon-nine-canberra