Fear is a funny thing. It can be helpful, even necessary in certain situations. It’s a survival instinct that warns us when we’re in trouble. Merriam-Webster defines fear as “an unpleasant, often strong emotion cause by anticipation or awareness of danger.” Awareness of danger makes sense. If you see a momma bear charging at you, your fear kicks in as it should. This is a situation where fear is a highly useful survival instinct. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. The anticipation of danger. This is where things get murkey.
Anticipating danger isn’t inherently negative. When you decide not to engage in risky behavior, you weigh the anticipation of danger against all possible outcomes. Jumping out of an airplane with no parachute or saftey equipment, you know that it’s dangerous. You would expect, anticipate at least an injury. And for most that’s enough to “nope” right out of the situation. But what happens when those alarm bells sound every day? When we are so convinced that danger is afoot that we forget to live? It becomes an endless cycle. Fear traps us, holds us back. Then we become more afraid. The big bad gets bigger and badder in our minds because we aren’t facing it. We forget. We hype it up to compensate, make a volcano out of a molehill.
This is not to be confused with anxiety disorder, a legitimate medical condition that persents with physical symptoms of fear (often panic attacks) and should be addressed with your doctor. No, what I’m talking about is a bit more generalized. Living in a constant state of fear and letting it hold you back. Making a conscious decision that yes, I could work on overcoming this and not have it be an issue any longer but choosing against it. Because it really can be as simple as that. We can decide not to let fear hold us back. We can choose to have faith. In ourselves, our loved ones, our fellow earthlings, and in the universe. We can learn, accept, and continue. The human brain is pretty amazing like that.
I know I have lived in fear for far too long, and I still do. It is something I am constantly working at because I am just so unbelievably tired of letting fear run my life. Plus, I hate being told what to do and to me it feels something like a foreign part of myself working against my own desires and telling me how to live my life. And so every day I try to make conscious decisions to work on things that scare me. To acknowledge and assess that fear, weigh the risk versus reward, and do what makes me happy. Every time I upload to this blog, I’m conquering fear. Even if it’s small. The internet is a scary place and posting my writing makes me feel intensely vulnerable and I have yet to become accustomed to those feelings. I used to be afraid to even call myself a writer. How could I identify as something I wasn’t even sure I really was? After all, I’ve never published anything and until very recently there were only about two people in the world that I would let read my writing (besides teachers amd even that scared me.) But writing makes me happy. It’s who I am and who I long to be. Fear has held me back from that. Fear of judgment, fear of failure. Just plain fear. I anticipate danger at every turn. But you know what? It gets better. Each time I face it, it gets a little smaller. A little easier. It becomes more and more manageable with every exposure. And that knowledge alone makes it continually easier to keep facing fears and to keep having faith.