Fear is the greatest teacher in the world. It can take you to the very ends of the earth if you let it. It carries the deepest lessons through the most painful of wounds. It bears boundless growth via the ugliest of scars. There is no place on earth worth going to that fear has never visited. It is the most human of all emotions, the one that reminds us of our ordinary mortality.
I am no stranger to fear. On the contrary, fear and I are old friends. Once upon a time, fear was my greatest adversary. The stumbling block on life’s path of dreams and desires. Fear ruled my world as lord and master as I cowered in a dark corner as the inadvertent subject.
I was afraid to try, yet afraid to fail. Afraid to get hurt, yet afraid of being alone. Afraid of failing, yet also afraid of succeeding beyond my wildest dreams. Afraid to leave, yet afraid to stay.
Yes, fear ruled every single action I took.
And then one day I simply decided that I was tired of being afraid. I started to ask myself, What IF?
What if, just what if I succeed? Or what if I fail?
What if I get hurt? Or what if it actually works out?
I started to realize that since fear is so constant, it has to serve a purpose in my life. I reckoned that its appearance was a sign for me to ask myself some tough questions, rather than what I had been doing – which was to hightail it in the opposite direction.
It started with simple situations, basic every day decisions. Whether to eat in or out. Buy a dress I really liked or not. Which brand of soap to use or which bank to open an account with. Before long I was dealing with tough decisions like choosing a car, moving to a larger house and quitting my cushy job.
It was ingeniously simple really. You see, when you are crippled with fear, you literally make it bigger than it actually is. However, when you face it head on and deal with whatever you’re afraid of, it dissipates faster than a dying fire on a rainy night.
I have learnt that fear often wears two contrasting masks.
Fear always appears when you are unsure about a course of action to take in a situation. This is actually the most common version that most people are familiar with. The best way to deal with this type of fear is simply to face it and ask yourself, what if this (my worst fear) comes to pass? Afraid you won’t get your dream job? Ask yourself what is the worst thing that will happen to you if indeed you do not get the job? Will you die – probably not. There, poof! You have disabled the fear.
By embracing the possibility that your fear will come true, you live out the fear and take away its power. Easy, right?
The second type of fear is my absolute favorite. This is the fear that appears like butterflies in your tummy or sweaty palms when you are really excited about something. The fear that accompanies something that you desire with all your heart and soul.
Have you ever wanted something so bad that when you actually get it you want to high-tail it in the opposite direction?
One thing I have learnt is that, if something that you are doing doesn’t scare you then it’s not worth doing. Your dreams should terrify you in a not-scary-way but in a way that makes you want them so bad that you are afraid of failing.
Now, that fear is my best friend. Some of you may know it as, the mountain you are willing to die on.