Last month, I had a chance to do not one, but two things I’d never done before. I found myself at the helm of a 52-foot catamaran, and I also found myself as an extra on a television show. One of these was an opportunity that got me giddy with excitement, while the other started my stomach churning and made my palms slick with sweat. Any guesses which was which?

White Dove Catamaran

White Dove Catamaran

Since I usually pilot pontoon boats in the 32-foot range, piloting that 52-foot catamaran was a huge treat. I absolutely LOVED it. The White Dove is big and beautiful and I felt like queen of the world while I was at the helm.

Captain Connie at the Helm

Captain Connie piloting White Dove Catamaran

On the other hand, being in front of the camera made me as nervous as if I were standing naked in front of the church. Ack. So, so not my thing. People spend years trying to snag such an opportunity while I was thinking, “Please don’t make me do this, please don’t make me do this.” But there was a schedule conflict and I was an available female of the right age who was already on set, so… I agreed to do it. I was glad to help, but I was so far beyond my comfort zone I was afraid I’d never find my way back. It was my first—and last—time on camera. (I know, never say never. But in this case, I’m saying never.)

That whole experience got me thinking. Why did one new thing make me see opportunity, while the other simply created anxiety? I think part of it is that piloting a bigger boat was simply stretching myself in an area I already feel competent in. Being on camera was like taking a trip to Swaziland. I had never been there before and had no idea how to behave. If I’d always longed to be an actress, I think my response would have been very different.

The next time something new comes my way, I’m going to take a minute to see if it sparks gut feelings of “opportunity” or “anxiety.” Then I’ll know better how to respond.

How about you? How do you view new things or experiences? What part does your gut reaction play in your decisions?