Have you ever missed out on an opportunity, avoided a confrontation, felt completely paralyzed, or couldn’t speak up, because you were afraid?
Fear is a funny thing. A healthy dose of fear is important – it keeps us from doing stupid things. But too much fear can hold us back from incredible things. Sometimes we know exactly what we are afraid of and why. Sometimes we can’t quite put our finger on it. Sometimes we have absolutely no reason to be afraid, but we can’t hep it.
Fear oftentimes feels way beyond my control, even when my fears are completely made up in my head without any basis. I’m afraid to stand up for myself when I should be fighting hard. I let things go just so that I don’t have to deal with them. I’m afraid to write things on my own blog that might be controversial, that’s not pretty, that people might not agree with. I’m afraid to strike up a conversation with that nice-seeming girl in my yoga class when I move somewhere new and know zero people. I’m afraid of what the future will hold. I’m afraid to make myself vulnerable. I’m afraid of where the military could send Nick and me. I’m afraid to try new things. I’m afraid of failure of any kind.
A song I fell in love with a couple of months ago made me realize how powerful fear is, how easily it can rule our lives without us realizing it, even if it is all in our head or unfounded. The song is called The Fear by Ben Howard. Part of it goes:
My, my, cold-hearted child, tell me how you feel
Just a blade in the grass, a spoke unto the wheel
Oh, my, my, cold-hearted child, tell me where it’s all gone
All the luster of your bones, those arms that held you strong
Oh, I’ve been worryin’ that my time is a little unclear
I’ve been worryin’ that I’m losing the ones I hold dear
I’ve been worryin’ that we all live our lives in the confines of fear.
But I don’t want to live my life in the confines of fear. Life is too short, and I will miss out on too much. I don’t want to just go through the motions because I am afraid of going outside my comfort zone.
In 2016, I will be fearless. Okay, okay, I know that I can’t just say, “Starting right now, I won’t be afraid of anything.” Because realistically, that’s just not possible. I don’t think being fearless is about not having any fears. Let me explain.
Being fearless, I think, is about confronting the things that scare you. To be fearless, you have to do something that scares you over and over until you are truly are fearless. So this year, when I am afraid of something, I will try to figure out why. I will try to do it anyway. I probably won’t always succeed. But there is something empowering about the word “fearless.” When I tell myself that I am fearless, I feel like I am unstoppable, like I can do anything. I am going to do my best to live by that word all year long and see where it takes me.
Don’t take this to mean that I will start to do reckless things just for the sake of overcoming a fear. I am talking about much smaller, but also much more important things:
When the military decides to send us to our next duty station, I will go without fear. It is always scary moving somewhere new, trying to find a new place to live, making new friends, navigating a whole new city. But that is also part of the excitement of moving around and seeing the world, a huge part of why Nick is staying in the military. The very thing that scares me the most is also the most exciting to me.
I will be fearless in my writing. I will finally write the things that have been knocking around in the back of my head, even if they scare me. Even if I am scared of how people will react.
I will put things into perspective. I will try not to be afraid of things that don’t matter or are all in my head. I will let things go that just aren’t worth it.
I will stand up for myself when it is worth it.
I will allow myself to be vulnerable, to open up to people, to try to make new friends. I don’t know a single person where I live now. Not having any friends is even scarier to me than trying to overcome my shyness.
When the movers arrive and we find out that practically everything we own is covered in mold, I will not be afraid of losing everything. I will be strong. I won’t wallow in self-pity. I will figure out what to do, and I will make sure that it is handled the right way.
When Nick is deployed, I won’t be afraid of being alone.
I will do little things, like tackle recipes that seem daunting.
I will read books that challenge me.
I will be open to ideas that scare me.
Isn’t it usually worth it when we step outside our comfort zone and confront our fears? What is the worst that can happen if you push yourself to speak up or try something new?
In 2016, I will be fearless. Who’s with me?!