Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about fear, and I’ve come to realize how much of our lives are affected by what seems to me is nothing more than a big, grizzly, rock throwing bully. Too often, we let fear stop us from going for professional opportunities, from loving, from trying something new, from taking a risk, changing our path, expressing ourselves, and just living.
I’ve always been one to fight fear, and trust me, there are many things that scare me. But I’ve always forced myself to face fear, to go for it, to fight back, because fear is rarely ever real. Fear is something people use to modify your behavior, to convince you to live your life based on their expectations. I also believe fear is something life uses to test you, see how easily you will give up, how quietly you will stay seated.
In true Word Share Junkie style, I’ll share a few ways I’ve fought that bully fear throughout life, and how much better things turned out because I did. Here’s hoping I can inspire a little gumption in you today to stand up to the bully, and take more control over your life and your destiny.
When I was a teenager, my dad was insanely strict and really not a very laid-back fellow. I was always a little terrified of him, not because of any psychical threat, but because his screams were so chilling and stomach crushing that they instilled fear. Fear of what, I’m not exactly sure. But even with that fear nestled firmly in my gut, I began to fight back. I’d always ask for logical explanations when he’s day no to a simple outing request. I’d call a friend to drive me to work when he wouldn’t show up to do so, because he didn’t want me to work, even though I’d get in trouble for it later. I voiced the fact that I was a good student, a good kid and a hard worker, and I deserved certain liberties. And sometimes, it got really nasty. I felt like I was somehow causing trouble for others, especially for my mother, but in the end I realize I was standing up for myself and against the illusion of fear, and today I believe my mother is proud of me for that.
When I moved to Chicago back in the summer of 2010, I was terrified. I didn’t know how it would go for me here, and I was afraid I wouldn’t hack it in my MBA program. I’m a smart girl with many talents, but math had never been one of them, and I was afraid a curriculum heavily focused on quantitative courses would crush me. I was afraid to leave behind a full-time job to go back to being a student, living on loans and interning, etc. Leaving my little sister was insanely hard (she was 8 at the time), and I was afraid she’d resent me for it. I was also dealing with everyone around me doubting my decision to leave, and trying to guilt me into staying.
But I packed up that fear, and I drove to Chicago anyway. I busted my butt in school, and made it through those quantitative courses, and got my degree. I found internships, encountered many great mentors, developed a lot of incredible friendships, lost 50 pounds, and became a better person for my little sister to be around when I go home to visit. The depression I experienced in Miami for too long had lifted, and I could now be more there for her than I was ever able to be when I lived in the same city.
When I finished school, and realized it was time to really start pushing on my writing career, my author and motivational speaker dreams, I was terrified too. I’ve always been an extremely open person, and I’ve never really been one to hide anything (like, ANYTHING), but it was a different thing to start writing everything down for strangers to read. It was incredibly scary to think of putting myself out there in such an honest and explicit way. I was scared of what people might think, how my family might react, etc. I was scared no one would be interested in what I have to say or share.
But I started the blog anyway, and continue to work through my book and my fears, build my social media presence, forging ahead to where I see myself in maybe 6-10 years. I somehow find the time to work on everything piece by piece while I do the other things I love; marketing, nurture friendships and relationships, and live my HAPPY. Plus, I’ve received some great feedback, and heard from many folks who are already saying my message helps them in some way.
As my final example, I’ll bring up LOVE for the first time on this blog (oh boy!). I haven’t had the best luck in this arena, despite my general success in most other facets of my life. I haven’t really had a real relationship in about a decade, although I’ve dated quite a bit. I’ve been hurt and disappointed immensely many times, and given up on the whole idea of love for long periods of time. But now that I have realized the growth I’ve attained from those experiences, I choose to love regardless of the fear. I choose to be open to it despite the very real risk of getting hurt. I choose to fight back, because I know I deserve love, I know it’s out there for me, and I know I will attain it.
So really, my point is where would I be today if I had succumbed to fear? Where would I be if I had allowed my father to control my life, if I had let people convince me to stay in Miami where I was terribly unhappy? What kind of life would I have if I had allowed my fear of numbers to keep me from attaining that MBA and taking my career to a new, desperately needed level? Where would I be if I had let all of my past experiences and history with emotional abuse keep me from loving people openly and completely, from believing in others, from believing in the good in this world and in us all?
It’s a scary thing to imagine where I’d be, and I’m so glad I’m here and not there. So when you encounter fear, recognize the bully, and fight. Once you get past that initial hump of fright, you will realize fear is also a big phony, and you will have won because you dared to question it, fight it and reject it.
Sonia, Word Share Junkie