Fear has always been a significant part of this blog – identifying fear, getting to the root of fear and tackling fear head on. This whole space was created as a result of my fear and my desire to overcome it. But during the past year that fear reared it’s ugly head and somehow, before I knew it, I realized I’d given it complete control.
The doubts started off quietly, gently almost, and virtually undetectable. It was like smoke in the night – a stray thought here, a moment of second guessing there. Slowly the smoky doubts seeped under the door and through the cracks in my psyche while I was sleeping, comfortable and complacent. They pooled softly on the floor, creeping up along the bed, around my body. But where there’s smoke there’s fire. When I finally woke up I was choking on my insecurities, desperately gasping for air. Just like in a house fire, I found myself paralyzed by fear. I knew I needed to get up, to run, to escape the doubts before they killed my spirit. But I couldn’t move.
Fear can rarely be boiled down to a single situation or moment in time. It’s an accumulation of little things. It’s a sneaky toxin that, over time, snuffs out your hopes, your dreams and your courage.
So here I am, the girl who is supposed to be living this full and fearless life, feeling like I’m being smothered by my fears. I know I need to move, but I just…can’t. The lies are flooding at me from every direction. You’re not good enough. You can’t do this. You’re stupid. What kind of role model are you? There are a million people out there doing the same thing, why would people care what you have to say? You can’t, you can’t, you can’t.
I was stuck.
I thought that in order to be living a full and fearless life I had to wage a war on my fear. I had to beat it into submission and banish it into exile. In order to be free of my fear, in order for me to be fully who I am supposed to be, my fear could no longer exist. But I was being held captive, so the thought of waging that war was overwhelming.
Very recently I’ve come to realize that rather than eliminating every trace of my fear, my fear and I must learn how to coexist.
The doubts can not creep into every area of my life, otherwise I’m left watching an out-of-control fire – an all consuming fear – ripping through the house while I’m paralyzed, letting it kill me. No, the fear has to be like a candle, flickering softly. The flame is very much alive, but it has boundaries. A candle in a glass jar sits on the table and remains there, an ever present reminder that the fear still exists, but it doesn’t overtake the house. The candle has power, and everyone is aware of it. One little bump could knock the unassuming fire to the floor and in a matter of minutes it would consume everything. My fear has power, but it’s possible for me to recognize that without letting it have free reign.
The essence of my fear always comes from thinking I have to do it all at once and it has to be done perfectly on the first try, whatever “it” is. But my dad reminded me of a very important thing the other day.
You can’t let yourself be paralyzed by thinking you have to do something huge. Just take one little step.
One little step. That’s all it takes to keep the fear in it’s rightful place. With each step you’ll still be aware of the fear. You’ll see it casting long shadows on the wall, dancing and teasing you, but don’t give it more power than it deserves. Keep moving forward. Take another step. Look the fear in the face, recognize it, name it and move past it. That takes more strength than beating it into abandon. Once you’ve taken those first few steps you’ll realize that the fear only has as much power as you choose to give it.
So that’s why I’ll continue Full & Fearless. I’m recognizing my fears rather than trying to smother them. I’m putting my insecurities in the corner, observing that they’re still there, but keeping them in their rightful place. Today is just a little step, but it’s a declaration that I refuse to be paralyzed by my fear.