The fear of facing your fears is harder to overcome than the fear itself ~ Anonymous
As a self-diagnosed over-thinker, fear tends to be a go to emotion that has prevented me from attempting many different things over the years. As I gain perspective on this fear, and realize the power fear has over me, I am determined to show up and face them all.
I was a fearful child. I was afraid of going to sleep, not necessarily of the dark, but of going to sleep and something creeping up on me. I was afraid mostly of evil spirits. As a believer in fairies, elves and pixies, I also believed in the opposite, goblins, ghouls, evil spirits. My mom and my brother took turns lying on my bed with me until I fell asleep, often falling asleep themselves, while they calmed my fears of the evil, the unknowns. Also as a small child, I hated it when Lou Ferrigno began to turn green, and change horrifically, into the Incredible Hulk. This generally resulted in my older brother laughing, and me hiding behind the couch in the living room.
As a teenager, I was (and still am) deathly afraid of spiders. Arachnophobia. I had recurring nightmares that spiders were dropping from the ceiling, and my mom would need to come into my room, turn on the lights, wake me up, and show me that there were actually no spiders. When the kids at school learned of my phobia, things worsened, as it was funny for them to throw plastic spiders on me, at me, and hide them in my locker. The gut-clenching, cold sweat, anxious, nauseating, paralyzing fear was impossible to explain or understand, unless you were firmly standing in my shoes. Or rather quaking in my shoes.
My mom clearly remembers my sixteen year-old self coming home after my first driving lesson and telling her that cars were “death machines.” I had a healthy fear of driving, well not actually of driving, but rather of being in an accident. Working as a paramedic, and later as an Emergency Room RN, amplified my fears of being in an accident. These fears were now soundly based on witnessed events and incidents that landed my patients on my stretcher. Downhill skiing, mountain biking, rollerblading, ice skating, driving, walking, hiking, breathing.
As an adult, I still identify with fear, however, my sense of fear has shifted. After years of being in the healthcare field, I no longer fear death and dismemberment. Although not a fan, I have realized that bad things, an unfortunate series of events, can occur to anyone at anytime. Not very comforting, but to me it was life-changing. Understanding that I have very little control over what might potentially happen to me, I had a choice, I could stay inside forever and never leave my house for fear of an accident, and still end up with cancer. Or I could embrace life, and participate in the activities I love, or want to explore, without fearing them leading to some horrific ending. Of course, safety first, but everything we do involves some element of risk.
Instead my fear now is of failing. Of not being perfect, or even mediocre. I fear that trying something new may result in me truly sucking at said activity. My inner control-freak takes over and tells me not to try if I can’t be perfect. Even though perfection is bullshit. I’ve enjoyed living within my comfort zone. It’s as advertised, comfortable. The invisible fencing however, needs to be torn down. The very idea of putting myself in the FEAR ZONE is terrifying, more frightening than the actual activity itself. The fear of failure is paralyzing, it can end dreams before they start, and it is also inevitable. We will always fail. At some time, at something, for some reason, we will not be successful. At least not initially. But knowing that, accepting that, even embracing that makes giving it a go somewhat less frightening. And there is really no one watching and waiting for me to fail, we are all too afraid of our own failures, to be consumed with others. It is only my own inner judge, inner critic, who is laughing, pointing and saying I told you so. But that critic is quickly silenced when my inner bad ass applies a headlock, and continues to encourage me, cheer me on and say “you got this!”…maybe.