“What are you afraid of?”, a question that can be super generic depending on whose asking and answering. I mean, I could go down a list of things I’m afraid of that would answer the question perfectly fine. Spiders, the dark, snakes, heck, I just had to turn the light on to watch the end of “Stranger Things” season 3 ep 5 last night because I was so afraid. Truth is, there are tons of things that most people are afraid of. Perhaps the most terrifying of all is to answer the question on any level that reaches beyond the surface. And so I ask again, this time as someone who cares. Someone who genuinely wants to know in what way has fear either compelled you or held you back and in some cases both.
You’ve likely seen a million quotes about fear in your lifetime; “Do one thing every day that scares you.”, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure….”, And if you are religious, then you know that the Bible says, “Do not be afraid” 365 times. That’s one for every day of the year. Even with all of the quotes and verses, the truth is, there’s so much to fear. Fear of failure, fear of heartbreak, fear of success, fear of abandonment, and the list goes on. Of all the quotes that I find the most accurate, John Lennon’s is the one, “There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love.” In almost, if not everything we do, those two things are the most significant driving forces in our decision making. The key to it all is doing our best to control our emotions, which steers our choices. If I were to do everything in love as the Bible instructs, then I’d take extra consideration of the cause and effect of my decisions out of love for myself, those who may be affected by my choices, what might be affected by it or all of the above. My love for myself has had to override my fear of the unknown. Sure, I could fail, but I also could success. I could get my heart broken again, but I also could unlock the greatest love known to man. I love me enough to try. I love me enough to understand that the only things standing in between where I am right now and where I want to be, are the fears that I’ve conjured up in an attempt to protect myself, but really it’s only hurting me more. For every time I allow fear to win, I keep myself from an experience that is sure to change me. Even when it doesn’t go my way, or I come up short, I stand to learn a valuable lesson that will propel me further along next time. A lesson that will grow me in a way that will allow me to reach a new level, a new height. See, by allowing fear to drive my choices I’ve already defeated myself. I’m sending a clear message to myself that I don’t trust me enough to handle the results of this choice. Even fear of success is a bi-product of self-doubt. There is something in you that either doesn’t think you’re worthy of prosperity, love, happiness, healthiness, achievements, etc. Or that you won’t be able to handle any of it. You sell yourself short every time you deem yourself unworthy or incapable. Its the reason so many of us settle. We talk ourselves into staying in relationships, friendships, jobs, situations, and all type of circumstances because we’re afraid we’ll never get the things we actually desire. We have to know that we really owe it to ourselves to find out just what we’re made of and the only way to know is to take life head-on. I didn’t know how strong I was until I had to overcome things I didn’t think I could. I didn’t know how strong I shouldn’t have to be until I allowed myself to acknowledge the truth about my experience and decide no more. To hold the mirror up to oneself and be honest is difficult, but staying stagnant, never evolving, remaining in a situation or place that isn’t serving your best self, regression should be the scariest thing of all. Nothing good comes out of our comfort zone, and there is no way to experience the fullness of life without growth. It is literally an essential part of our journey as beings. From the time we are conceived, we are continually developing. And if we choose to love ourselves in the fullness of our ability and beyond, then we never stop improving, which also means accepting that with growth comes pain. There are going to be moments when it doesn’t feel good. Mistakes will be made, but our shortcomings and life experiences don’t have to be paralyzing when faced with choices, it should be what motivates us to try even more. To try that new activity, that different food, the new career choice, to chase your dreams, to fall in love, to trust new people, to open up to friends, to go to therapy, to tell your story, to be vulnerable, to put yourself out there in ways you haven’t before.
I’m not sure what you are afraid of, but I hope that you will no longer allow yourself to be stopped by that fear. I hope that you will push past it and see yourself as capable. You are capable of handling whatever is on the other side of going for it, whatever “it” may be. I hope that you will use the healthy side of fear and let it wake you up and let you know that whatever you’re after is worth it. Let the fear of never reaching your full potential encourage you to strive despite the odds. Through the good and bad, you will survive, you will grow, you will win. Choose love over fear. Choose faith over doubt. Choose you over anything you’d allow to stand in your way. Life can be scary, but it is no match for the person who is liberated from fear and has the strength to look straight at it and say, not today! When you overcome your fears, you give others the courage to do so as well. Be your own hero, and the hero for others you don’t even know are watching. You got it!
“Evolution and all hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and open-hearted vision of people who embrace life.” – John Lennon