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I’m afraid.

I’m afraid of so many things. I’m afraid of big things like dying or someone I love dying. I’m also afraid of smaller things.  Like putting myself out there.  I’m afraid to be seen.  I’m frightened of failing.  Oddly enough, I’m also scared of succeeding.  I fear that people won’t like me, of being misunderstood, and of people judging me. One of my biggest fears is that I’m not good enough.

My entire life I’ve let the fears win. Then one day, while my insides felt like melting wax, my heart raced and my eyes watered, I decided to fight back.

Even as I sat there thinking about it, I wanted to cry. I wanted to scream out from the terror that seemed to be consuming me. I wanted to stay safe and hide behind the fear like I’d done my entire life. Yet deep down, a spark flickered in the darkness and it wanted to grow. I knew that I couldn’t hang onto both. I had two choices.  I could let the fear win and snuff out the light for good.  Or I could feel the fear and push past it so that the light could grow and I could become who I was always meant to be.

I chose the light.

I often wondered why things seemed so easy for other people and so hard for me. I thought that those other people must have something I didn’t. Did they have magic that gave them unlimited confidence and high self-esteem?  They had no fear; how could they? Why was it so easy for other people to put themselves out there and be recognized?  Meanwhile, I hid in the shadows, terrified someone would see me?

At first, the answers seemed obvious. I lacked confidence and self-esteem.  I was afraid of not being good enough and of other people’s judgment. Then one day, I asked myself a question that helped changed the way I viewed the situation. “What if those other people are as afraid as I’ve been but they did it anyway?”

You see, as long as I believed that those other people had something I didn’t, it was easy to hide behind my fears. As soon as I asked the question, it leveled the playing field and there was hope that ignited the spark in my soul. The only difference between me and those other people was that they were afraid and did it anyway.

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That’s it. One small yet significant detail had kept me from pursuing my dreams and becoming the person I wanted to be. Rather than feeling afraid and doing it anyway, I let fear consume me and then stop me in every area of my life. I suffered from depression and anxiety. I belittled myself daily. I felt weak and insecure. I believed that there was something wrong with me and that I truly wasn’t good enough.

Then I asked myself more questions. What if I am good enough? What if I do succeed? What if I quit thinking and start doing? What if I try?

Again, my eyes welled up with tears.  My stomach turned to knots; my breathing became more rapid while at the same time I felt like I couldn’t breathe at all.  My heart raced uncontrollably. Panic had set in.

I stopped, closed my eyes, took in some deep breaths and asked myself what in the hell am I so afraid of?

Everything, was the answer from my subconscious mind.

What is the point of being afraid of everything?

If I don’t try, I can’t fail. I won’t know if the answers to the questions are true. Not knowing is better. Trying could lead to the discovery that my fears are true. If I’m not good enough then I would find out the truth. At least now, I can pretend that there’s a chance.

You’re right, I replied. But the point that my subconscious brain was missing was that the opposite is also true. If I don’t try, I can’t succeed either. I’ve learned as much from my failures as my successes in my life.  I would rather try and fail than to spend the rest of my life wondering “what if”.

So, here I am. . . trying. I want to lead by example.  By taking a chance and following my dreams, I hope to lend some courage for someone else to follow their dreams too. Maybe that person is you.

We decide how we’re going to live our lives. We control whether we let fear consume us or if we follow our light. Many people have fear. Lots of people who try things suck at them at first. The ones we admire, the ones we think have something that we don’t are the ones who were afraid and did it anyway. They’re the ones who let themselves suck until they didn’t anymore. Now it’s our turn to take a chance. It’s our turn to be afraid and do it anyway. It’s our turn to shine.

Join me on this journey of self-discovery, of conquering fears and living our best lives. Join me and let’s see where the light takes us.

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Want to share? What are you afraid of but are going to do anyway?