The distance between me and the world is fear.
What is it you fear most? (And I don’t mean ghosts and ghouls). Are you afraid to change jobs? Maybe you are hesitant to take a pottery class for fear of looking like a fool in front of the others. My son is scared to read simply because he thinks he doesn’t know how. But he does! He reads to me all the time; he’s scared to tackle bigger words and longer sentences. The challenge of “Can I really do it?” is daunting.
I have to smile in this moment because I am no different.
I, too, am scared to take on bigger ‘unknowns’ with long-term investment. Putting in long hours toward work that may never reach another’s eyes – or submitting this work to be considered for publication and waiting m o n t h s on end appears excruciatingly painful before actually trying it. In this way, we are all the same. Fear is universally felt. It is debilitating when we allow it to be.
It is holding us back from our dreams.
Why do we fear what intrigues us most? If I come alive when writing about the world and my odd place in it, then why is the idea of sending my work to an editor the most cringe-worthy thought of all? Why, if my friend is itching to take a dance class because she adores music and swaying her beautiful hips, does she freeze up the moment she registers for the class?
It is because we fear being exposed and vulnerable. And not just that – what if we try and fail? What do we do then?
It isn’t easy being human, and the idea of having others watch us lose ourselves in the rhythm of our desires is terrifying. Whether I send my book to the faceless editor on the other side of my computer screen – or when my friend is dancing her much-anticipated ‘rhythm of being,’ we imagine the worst possible outcomes because that is what fear tells us to do; it’s doing its job!
Braving the world with our talents and creativity and living out our most delicate dreams means we enter the stream of life and risk living out in the open, for all to see. With this risk, we accept failure as collateral. And for decades, society has told us that making mistakes is humiliating and shameful.
And our loudest, most hideous friend FEAR enters to tell us it’s not worth the risk. Don’t humiliate yourself. Play it cool, stay small, and you won’t fail.
I am here to tell you now that all of this is a lie. Fear doesn’t have to crush you into your smallest self. It is possible to allow fear be the driving force behind all that you do.
Again, allow fear its place, BEHIND YOU – Not in front of you, in your face, chanting incessant doomsday stories so loudly that you want to cry. No, dearest lights, please do not allow fear to do this to you. Let us be brave, not broken.
It’s not about being fearless; it’s about knowing what to do with fear.
Allow fear to be present in you. Watch how it makes you feel. What does it do to your body? Oftentimes, my heart beats a little faster and my cheeks blush right before I hit the “send” button to the senior editor of a magazine – and YES IT IS TERRIFYING, but quite exhilarating at the same time, a terrific rush of adrenaline!! Like, “Holy crap, there is someone ‘important’ on the receiving end of this email who might actually, probably, maybe, might read this or at least send it to her assistant to read which means at least ONE person will read what I’ve written!!”
And once the email is sent, yes sometimes I cry for a minute because I’m still scared of what the editor will say – or worse – what she won’t say. But this is living, is it not? Braving our way through the world… risking failure, or rejection, or worse, silence.
We are challenged to do something every day that scares us. To give presentations at work in front of management; to tell a spouse we’ve lost a job; to take our children to the doctor because a mole has made us nervous enough to seek the opinion of an expert. In all of these ways, we are asked to be intimate with fear. And when facing fear, we have a choice. We can choose to feel it, to let it run its course in our bodies, to sit with it during our most vulnerable moments. In fact, we MUST do these things in order the move forward, to enter the stream of living, to live our most authentic lives. Fear is the body’s way of telling us we are moving closer to the truth of our being – to the truth of our lives.
And if we avoid fear? If we stay small, what then?
It is my experience that THIS is the breeding ground for anxiety and hidden living. And how long can we hide before the world eats us up completely?
I ask these questions because for the greater part of ten years, I have been hiding. Had we chatted two months ago, I would have told you that I’m going to focus on my list of to-dos: School, degree, job, motherly duties, because this is what society tells me to focus on. But I am tired of hiding under my blanket of routine and to-dos. It is as simple as that. I am tired of slinking around in my comfort zone – my journals, my blog, the warmth of my office. These are safe places for my writing because I have full control. And what human doesn’t find comfort in things we can keep under control?
If I were to send my writing to any other place, there is no guarantee of anything. No guarantee of publishing, no guarantee of constructive criticism. No guarantee of a response at all. AND ALL OF THESE THINGS SCARE ME. But tell me, who isn’t completely terrified when taking a long-anticipated risk of living out in the open, exposed and vulnerable?
Maybe it’s time to see if we can bring ourselves to the occasion of sharing our gifts, of taking a chance. I invite you to risk living your most authentic life. What does that look like? What would happen if you started today?
Ask yourself this:
Is this worth attempting to do even if I fail?
Make your appointment with life, and keep it.
Live bravely, not broken.
We are all in this together.
Light & love,