This week, even though Halloween has now passed, it’s cozy sweater weather, Starbucks holiday drinks are out, it’s almost appropriate to listen to Christmas music, and I’m relishing the cool fall days, I’ve decided to write about fear.
There is a Babe Ruth quote in the movie A Cinderella Story which, for those of you who like myself grew up loving Hilary Duff in 2004, is iconic. The quote is:
Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game
I’ve been thinking lately about how we can apply this kind of thinking to our lives so we can face fears and live life to the fullest.
Identifying Fear and it’s Symptoms
You might be reading this and wondering if it really applies to you, but I know that we all have our own fears, and they come in different shapes and sizes. We might be afraid we aren’t good enough, of what people will think of us, if we will let people down, of risking something we’ve worked hard for, of being vulnerable and getting hurt. But sometimes fear isn’t obvious – rather than being able to identify being afraid to be vulnerable we get defensive and guarded.
Sometimes I’ll be acting a certain way and if I reflect on why I’m thinking or feeling something and realize that it’s actually stemming from something else and that something is fear. For example: are you ever envious of someone else and then think deeply about it and realize maybe you’re actually just a little insecure and worried you don’t measure up? That is a symptom of fear working its way into your thoughts.
Another example might be pushing people away or making excuses to not invest in relationships. Putting yourself out there can be intimidating, and I’ve run into times when I’ve found myself making excuses not to do something or be the first to call or settle for a safer option. And that’s fine and you can do that if you want, but I find it helpful to inspect and see if the root of those actions is stemming from a place of fear or insecurity.
Not Acting from a Place of Fear
Nelson Mandela once said “May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears”. When I think about my life, the values that I want to guide me and the person I want to be, I know that fear isn’t one of those values. If we are able to identify fear, or symptoms of it in our lives, we can do something about it and think about what we would like to replace it with.
The year 2004, evidently, was a golden year for chick flicks. Another iconic 2004 movie from my childhood that talked about facing fears was Princess Diaries Two. In the movie Princess Mia says “Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the judgement that something is more important than fear”. We might be able to identify fear, and try to replace it with something else, but realistically it’s also not something that we can always outrun. That is why I love this quote because sometimes the best way to overcome our fears is not to displace them but to be courageous and face them head on.
Saying “yep I’m scared of this but I want to work through it” is almost never the easy answer but since when was the easy solution the best one?
Don’t Let Fear Stop You
We face challenging new things everyday that have the potential to be scary – even something like starting a new job or trying a new class at the gym that is out of your comfort zone to becoming a parent or making a move across the country to pursue school or a dream job.
Emma Watson once said “I’ve probably earned the right to screw up a few times. I don’t want fear of failure to stop me from doing what I really care about”. I love this sentiment and I think it is important to put into practice into our lives. Whatever your fears are – this week I want to encourage you to identify fears you might have in your life and see how you can challenge that thinking.
Life is full of things that might be frightening but being courageous enough to face them, letting your choices reflect the hopes and values you want to guide you life, and deciding everyday that you won’t let the fear of striking out keep you from engaging in life are ways to be intentional about living well.
I’ll close with another quote (I know, I know, it’s a lot of quotes this week). I hope that these words can inspire you to be bold and maybe even “fearlessly authentic” in your lives and relationships with others: “Let us not be afraid to voice our thoughts. Let us not be afraid to truly be ourselves. Let us not be afraid of judgement made by others. Let us not be afraid of speaking the truth. And, let us not grow fearful of one another.”