I just spent a few days snowboarding in Tahoe. I have been snowboarding most of my life, and while I am nowhere near the best snowboarder on the mountain, I think it's fair to say that I have gotten quite good. I only mention this because, even after decades of practice and proven competence, I almost always feel anxiety before snowboarding - like I'll forget how to do it. I feel anxious on the drive to the mountain, I feel anxious getting ready in the parking lot and I feel anxious riding the lift to the top. However, the moment I strap my feet onto the board my anxiety disappears. At that point my brain sort of shuts off, muscle memory kicks in and my body just does what it's done for years. And it's always worth pushing through.
I remember experiencing something similar when I used to play guitar on stage. Leading up to a show I'd be stressed, and anxious and honestly dreading the performance ahead. I remember thinking that I'd completely forget how to play all of the songs that I'd spent countless hours practicing - songs I could literally play with my eyes closed. Fear can be so irrational. However, similar to strapping on my snowboard, once I got on stage and felt the guitar in my hands, the fear disappeared. My body remembered even though my brain doubted. And the thing I was dreading ended up being a reward.
I've learned that anxiety comes from anticipation, and that the only way to counteract it is with action; by actually doing the thing. The difficult part is that fear and anxiety are not nice feelings and they make us want to avoid whatever is causing them. But avoiding discomfort is the opposite of growth. The lesson, really, is to embrace the fact that fear and anxiety will almost always be an obstacle, to be okay with that, and then to just do the thing anyways. Action beats anxiety every time. What stands in the way becomes the way.
"The mind adapts and converts to its own purposes the obstacle to our acting. The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way."