fear. fear. FEAR!
It is sort of ironic. You know the familiar quote by Franklin D. Roosevelt – “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” It’s a great quote but truthfully, I’m not sure it really applies to me as i have a long list of things to fear.
However, it is a quote by his wife, Eleanor Roosevelt that does resonate with me: “We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face… we must do that which we think we cannot. Without question, this has been much more true to my experience.
I had a great conversation recently about fear. You all know the deal – it can be debilitating, irrational and lead to missing out. But it is as real as the skin on your face (or for most of us, at least).
When I decided to try stand-up comedy for the first time, it was because I had realized earlier that part of what was depressing me was not living the life that I wanted. I don’t mean as if I should quit my job and pursue something in an unrealistic fashion. Rather, it was just simply about trying something new. Experiences, like music, really fuel me. The Red Hot Chili Peppers sing “I like pleasure mixed with pain and music is my aeroplane” and I get it. I really, really get it. But more about that at a later, more alcohol-inspired blog post!
I am in the midst of a divorce and, at the same time, what I feel to be great uncertainty with my job. Yet, I am oddly at peace with both – more than I ever would have imagined. It is not that my anxieties don’t get the better of me from time to time but facing different fears, getting comfortable with the uncomfortable and working from a place of “yes”, rather than “no” has been an amazing elixer to remedy those anxiety fueled moments.
As a side effect, as I work through the uncertainties associated with the end of a marriage and what might be a pivotal career moment – both leading me to wonder “what is next”, it is the byproduct of those new experiences that I decided to face while putting fear aside that have helped me as I journey through all of this – friends, connections, and opportunities.
I have learned through mindfulness (as I continue to explore meditation), that it is not just about giving up control, nor about just being “present in the moment”. It is a powerful coping experience because it simply causes me to pay attention and identify what I am feeling rather than just feel it. This is why I gravitate to writing and playing piano so much – particularly when stressed out. It is funnel by which I can “tune it” to what I am writing or playing, think about it – even lose myself momentarily. It is about trust – which, after all, is really the exact opposite of fear.
I will always have my struggles. I will grapple with the evolution of trying to “figure it all out”. I will do all of this knowing, however, that it is not about having the answers but more about listening. I think this is where instinct really comes in.
i had never put it all together in this fashion before. I suck at pretty much everything, yet, I feel i have a fairly good instinct about people (even in the midst of now separating from the one person that mattered most). (Or maybe I just tell myself that). In any event, I think the gut instinct is really a test of whether you can trust yourself over your fears. Can we choose to make those decisions that are hard for us and for others in lieu of the fear of what it may lead to?
I had a conversation with my daughter recently about trying new things and not being afraid of failure – that failure is actually a good thing – a difficult proposition for anyone, let alone an 11 year-old. I do think it’s time that I take my own advice and the more I do it, the more rewarding it is. After all, the things that end up waking us up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night are rarely the things we have been fearing in the first place.
So, in summary – find your aeroplane, face one fear and go for it. With the exception of things like skydiving, if you fail, you’ll still be around to reap the rewards of having tried something new.
Until next time,
i hope you enjoyed this blog post and am grateful for your reading it and passing it along.
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