Hi my name is Sarah and I’m living in fear. I’m also really happy. Figure that one out!
Hold up, yes, living in fear doesn’t sound very inspiring or fun but hear me out because this is good stuff (At least I think so!). Now, more than ever, I’m realizing how much untamed fear I have inside of this head of mine. I’m also finding out that this fear is a powerful tool that I can use to grow and improve.
Some of my biggest fears became incredibly real when I settled into my flight from New York to China. This was the longest leg of my trip and although it was a huge relief to make it to my seat successfully without being told to pay for my extremely oversized carry-on items (I way overpacked- have I mentioned that? Yikes), I panicked. Sitting next to two kind and friendly seat-mates, with a racing heart and tears in my eyes, staring at the shrinking buildings of NYC and thinking to myself “What the hell did I just get myself into?”
The planning stages are all about the vision, the dreams, the ideas but when it came time to implement those ideas and make those dreams a reality, I was finally, truly terrified. Good. What sane person wouldn’t be slightly terrified at the thought of leaving everything stable, secure, normal and familiar for something so open-ended, far-fetched, unknown and potentially disastrous? Well, maybe some people are more brave when it comes to stuff like this, but this girl didn’t feel brave at all.
What I quickly realized when this flood of fear and doubt poured over me in the first part of this flight, was that my fear is not only something that keeps me from doing incredibly stupid things, it’s also something that signals an area of my life that is begging for growth and improvement. Fear is a blessing and as I sat in mild panic and fear, I embraced it. It’s okay to be afraid, it’s okay to be uncertain and I came to realize that I have power to use that fear to my benefit. It’s not the fear that dictates how things will go, it’s how I respond to that fear.
So what kind of responses to fear are beneficial?
- Embracing it – By embracing fear you are ridding yourself of the inhibiting shame and avoidance that makes it so hard for you to truly understand your fears. Fear is natural, helpful and good so be okay with it.
- Respecting it – Whether your fear is rational or irrational, respecting that fear means that you seek to understand it and where it comes from. It is always a signal, whether it’s a warning sign to stop or a signal to step up your game, fear deserves respect.
- Evaluating it – This is the part of your response that helps you decide what to do with your fear. Start questioning the heck out of that fear in order to find out what purpose it serves. Often, your fear isn’t what it seems to be and by asking yourself why you have this fear and where it came from, you’ll find out that even the silliest fears come from legitimate places. At the same time, some of the biggest fears can be swept away with just a little logic and reason.
- Conquering it – Whether you feel like the fear is legitimate or not, it’s time to conquer it by taking action against it. You can make an elaborate game plan with a timeline and steps or you can simply use positive thoughts to counteract fears that you find to be false.
- Sharing it – If you’re super brave, sharing your fear with someone will almost immediately help you relax about it. Often, just hearing the words come out of your own mouth will help you process the fear from an outsider’s perspective. You’re also giving them a chance to verify your fears or possibly even nullify them. When fears are kept inside or kept a secret, there’s less motivation to do something about it and you don’t give others the chance to help you evaluate and conquer it.
Back to the whole living in fear thing. From that moment of panic on the plane to China to the moment of panic while surfing this morning, I’m realizing now, more than ever, how much fear I have swirling around in my head on a daily basis. The fear on the plane revealed to me how insecure I truly am about what I’m doing and how much I’m doubting my ability to succeed in an unconventional way. I haven’t squashed that fear but I’m chipping away at it by realizing that it’s reminding me to step my game up and work hard to get what I want out of this adventure. The harder I work and the more I put into my goals here, the less this fear affects me.
From the huge fear of my professional goals crashing and burning to the comparatively small fear of surfing in deeper water, I am and will be living in fear for the next year (or maybe more). All of these fears are on a mission to improve me, not to destroy me. I’m so happy now because, without a doubt, if I can handle the fear correctly, I will have the opportunity to grow and succeed in many ways.
Fear has a way of making me unhappy because it tends to make me think there’s something wrong with me. Maybe you can relate. But in reality, it’s such a gift and I’m excited, happy and energized at the thought of how much this fear can actually help me and contribute to my success.
If you follow along with this blog, be ready to hear a lot about fear because it’s becoming very clear to me that it will be a pretty consistent theme for me over the coming months.
Time to go get scared.