Fear [feer] (n): a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid.
Heights, spiders, the dark, what do they have in common? They're fears. We all have them. I bet you can think of at least one...
An eerie chill suddenly slides down your spine without hesitation. You are in full on panic mode: palms are sweating, your heart is now increasing speed at an alarmingly accelerated rate, and you feel the moisture from your perspiring body attach itself to your clothing.
Have you ever felt so afraid you went numb to every feeling in your body? One minute you're laughing without a care in the world and the next it's as if the world around you is spinning. You can't see or think straight because something in you has triggered fight or flight symptoms. What happens when you come face to face with the one thing that frightens you the most?
I am confident in the fact that I made a friend of fear this past year. It coddled me in the worst way, taking from me any ounce of confidence that I had planted in my soul. It crawled its way underneath my skin and found residence in my heart. I am no stranger to fear, its wreaked havoc on my well being time and time again. The thing about fear though, is the only way it will thrive is if you choose to water it. You give life to your fear when you allow it to hold your hand in the face of uncertainty.
“Being FEARLESS isn't being 100% not FEARFUL, it's being terrified but you jump anyway...”
Every summer when I was growing up we would go to Maryland to visit my cousins for a week. During that week we would go to this lake for the day. They had a big jungle gym in the water, and, if you were brave enough, a high dive. There were two levels. One was a reasonable height from the water, intimidating but doable. The other was slightly higher and incredibly frightening to my younger self, I was intrigued though. My cousins and brother were able to do it, so why not me? I remember the day I decided it was my turn. I was going to make the plunge from the high dive. A decision I was happy with until the moment I stood up so much higher above the water than before. I had never been afraid of heights, but the thought of jumping was enough to spook me. I remember standing so far above the shore, looking for my dad over on the sand. I wanted him to see that I could do it, I could be like the big kids. It took me a few minutes to muster up the courage, the thought of doing it and actually take the leap are two very different things. So, finally I stopped contemplating how it was going to go and jumped. It wasn't a pleasant drop to say the least, but I went through with it. I was afraid, but I jumped anyway.
Our fears are there not to hider but challenge us. You're allowed to be afraid. You're allowed to second guess and over-analyze. You're allowed to make pro/con lists. There is nothing wrong with admitting you're scared. In fact, I encourage you to take advantage of your fear. The moment you feel your stomach twist into those all too familiar knots, keep going. Don't let it be the reason you stop, let it be the drive that pushes you forward. Let your fear be the thing that reminds you you're alive. Approach every fear with the confidence you will have after you've overcome it.
So, what is it? What's holding you back? What's keeping you from reaching your full potential?
Failure. The fear of failure. The fear of coming so incredibly close, but falling short.
An all too familiar fear. We can't tell the future. We don't know how things will turn out, and that thought enough pushes us over the edge. This fear, this fear is mine. I've been having trouble finishing this post because I don't think it's good enough. I'm a semi perfectionist so I've yet to finish any sort of creative fiction pieces I've written. I get inspired by a random thought, create a scene from that thought, and spit a few pages out until my brain juice runs dry. When I try to approach the story again I'm at a loss as where to develop it. I read it over and over until suddenly I can no longer find the appeal I once saw in the words I've written. It's a cycle I've gone through over and over and it's why I've yet to finish a story.
I was talking to a friend the other day about my predicament and he stumped with this thought: Isn't that failing? If the thing I'm most afraid of is never completing a story, then I've already done that. I've already failed, multiple times. So what is it that's really stopping me? The thought of never succeeding? How will i know if I don't at least try? How will I know that I'm destined for continued failure if I haven't allowed myself the opportunity to break the streak?
"FEARLESS is getting back up and fighting for what you want over and over again… even though every time you’ve tried before, you’ve lost. It’s FEARLESS to have faith that someday things will change."
So jump. Take the plunge off your own high dive. Do you really want your story to go unfinished? Don't give up on your future self, you haven't met them yet. If a friend told you they didn't think they could truly live up to their own expectations, would you agree with them? Or would you do everything in your power to encourage and support the path they chose? So why not give yourself that same courtesy? Take a deep breath. You feel that? That's hope. Hold onto that, it'll take you further than you give yourself credit for.
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Stories have always been my safe haven. I hope my words can be the same for you.