July 2018

Be afraid but do it anyway

By: Yasmin Winther Simonsen
Projects Abroad Volunteer

Most people in our culture are riddled with fear. It is running our lives, taking the wheel in most of our decision-making, without us even noticing. Fear is sneaky, and it shows up in all kinds of disguises. If we let it, fear can keep us locked up in the prison of comfort and predictability. Until you see it for what it is, it is hard to have the right relationship with fear.

Imagine this: you are 80 years old, sitting on your porch in a rocking chair, rocking back and forth. As you look over the landscape you think back on your life. Is it with regret? With joy? Have you done everything you wanted to do and lived your life to the fullest? Or has fear controlled you, and now it is too late to do any of the things you have always wanted to do?

For a very long time fear has controlled me. It has kept me from doing things I really wanted and living the life of my dreams. Fear has made sure that I would always stay in my comfort zone where I was safe and nothing could happen to me. Yet life begins outside your comfort zone. It is time to take the first step.

In one day I managed to face two of my biggest fears. My fear of heights and my claustrophobia. I climbed a mountain and went inside a cave, leading me to go through really slim passages that I could barely fit through. The only way out was going through. So, I did it! More scared than I have ever been, panic taking over, I climbed the mountain, entered the cave, and went through those slim passages. I survived! Fear was telling me that I could not do it, that I should not do it, that it was dangerous and stupid and would most likely kill me. Yet it did not. I was able to make it even though everything in my body was telling me not to, and I have never felt so good about myself in my entire life. I did not let my fear control me. I controlled my fear.

I cannot count how many times I have not done something because I was scared that it would go wrong, that it would be awkward, that I would not be good enough. Do I regret that now? Yes! When I think of all the things I missed out on, all the experiences I missed, the memories I did not create, I wish I could turn back time and push myself away from fear and out of my comfort zone that I needed. Now I am giving you that push. I have a question for you, "What would you do if you knew you could not fail?"

Take a minute to think about it and then go do it. Be afraid but do it anyway.

We have been taught to think that fear is a bad thing. We see it as a weakness, something we should hide from others and deal with alone, but fear should not cause shame or stay hidden. Now more than ever, our fears need to shamelessly take center stage so we can let fear illuminate everything that is in need of healing in our lives and finally be free.

Fear is a funny thing. No one can quite explain what it is. Everyone experiences fear in different ways. Everyone is afraid of different things. It affects us differently, we experience it differently, and it never wears the same mask twice.

Too many people let fear hold them back and control their life. Why are we so scared of doing the things we really want to do? We are controlled of the fear of failure. However, you should never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game. What if it does not go wrong? What if you accomplish something you have always wanted? What if you learn something new? You will never know if you let fear control you. We think too much about consequences and what can go wrong instead of just taking the leap and enjoy the ride. We only have one life and we should live it to the fullest. We owe that to ourselves.

The hard choices -- what we most fear doing, asking, saying -- are very often exactly what we need to do. Many times, fear can run away with us. We imagine the worst and begin to panic. We are plagued by a series of "what ifs," questions that seem to get subsequently more catastrophic. Yet the truth is we suffer more often in imagination that in reality.

Failing is a part of life and no one goes through it without failing. Every mistake is a chance to learn something. So do not let fear stop you. You will never lose. You either win or learn something.

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