Growing up, I was raised in a way that cultivated a great sense of independence and, with the pace at which my childhood/life progressed, a certain level of mental toughness that has prevailed throughout my life regardless of any personal vulnerabilities. So, even though my childhood and teenage years were spent in a challenging environment that changed regularly and was filled with risks, I was very rarely fearful of change itself and the unknowns that come with risk. This is an especially big feat if you consider that, being a child, I never chose any of those risks to be my own and that some of those risks never even paid off. In many ways, I considered myself fearless.
This is peculiar to think about because I now find myself in an unnerving situation where it has become apparent that the thing standing between me and what I hope to try, do and achieve is fear. Fear. The emotion that, in its previous absence, has allowed me progress through change after change without much hesitation. Suddenly, fear has made itself present, crashing into my life like your roommate’s drunk house guest at three-in-the-morning, and it is steadfastly obscuring any change or, at least, any progress.
I can’t tell you for sure why fear seems to have shown its face at this exact time but based on my conversations this week, it seems that fear becomes greater as you gain more obligations and more responsibility: professionally, materially, mentally, emotionally — every *ally word out there. Time plays a big part. So does growing up. Or, at least, how aware you are of these things. Lately, in my case, I have been preoccupied with the concept of time and how much time I have left. I know, morbid right? Suddenly, we go from being children with lots of time and very little to lose in life to being adults with less time but with plenty to lose. Suddenly, changes and risks aren’t so easy to digest. Around a table of three women, at different points in their lives and with varying degrees of *ally words, this concept of fear was a theme that ran pretty deep for all.
My lesson this week is the simple acknowledgement of the strongest presence of fear I’ve felt in the years that I’ve been alive. I wish my lesson was a better plan on how to return to an earlier state of fearlessness but for now, I think it’s enough be aware that fear is here. There’s some truth in that old cliche, “the first step to recovery is acknowledging that you have a problem”. Fear isn’t necessarily a problem, but knowing that it exists and that it might be getting in your way is the first step in trying to find a way around it.
My friend Andjelka is on the most epic adventure across the United States of America right now. I’ve been following her travels closely because she’s had more life experiences in a few months than most have in their lifetime. She’s doing anything and everything she’s ever wanted to do, in hot pursuit of her own happiness, without letting a shred of fear get in her way. It is, to the say the least, very inspiring. Before she left, she wrote an amazing blog post that had me sobbing on the floor amongst a pile of dirty laundry. It’s titled ‘Oh Baby, It’s A Wild World: A Playlist To Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway’. The title says a lot so I’ll let you just read it for yourself but I’d definitely, definitely recommend it. So much so that if I ever attempted to offer any sort of ‘fix-it’ takeaway for this ‘fear’ thing, I’d just refer to this blog post. Andjelka is living proof that ‘doing it anyway’ might just work.
Fear is a basic part of being human. Some will even argue that it is what makes us human. It's true. Fear is, and always will be, a part of our lives but when we grow, gain and end up with more to lose, the risks get riskier and as a result the fear becomes greater. With that said, fear shouldn't get in the way of growing and gaining. The question is, how do we stop fear getting the in the way? This is still a mystery to me. Do we even need to? Is there even a way to? Maybe we do just need to "feel the fear and do it anyway".