37 Days: Teach fear to heel

Teach fear to heel:

“Fear is a reductive force in the universe; it makes people small. It reduces your voice, your way of being in the world, your humanity, the reach of your arms out to others—everything about you shrinks, becomes small, closes in on itself, like visiting a foreign country and not being able to read any of the signs and becoming someone smaller than you really are, not laughing your big laugh because you don’t know, not going to the bathroom because it’s unclear which one wears the skirt. For every lack, there is a fear behind it: It is fear of success that feeds procrastination, for example. Fear is the All-You-Can-Eat-Buffet-of-Life. Insert your own food-related metaphor here.”

One response to “37 Days: Teach fear to heel”

  1. Katrina

    In the late 1990s, I–for whatever reason–began reading all of the books written by L.M. Montgomery (best known for “Anne of Green Gables”). In the process, I discovered several of her lesser-known books that quickly became my favorites. At the top of the list is “The Blue Castle,” which contains this wonderful thought, which the main character reads in a book: “‘Fear is the original sin,’ wrote John Foster. ‘Almost all the evil in the world has its origin in the fact that some one is afraid of something. It is a cold, slimy serpent coiling about you. It is horrible to live with fear; and it is of all things degrading.'”

    The main character, Valancy, lets this thought propel her into changing her life forever. It changed mine, too. From that moment forward, I began facing down my fears and conquering them, rather than cowering and hiding and denying them.

    Things went pretty well until I decided to revisit my childhood love of theatre. I opened that door, and found a room full of snarling, fire-breathing dragons. It took me nearly four years to battle my way through those monsters, but the biggest breakthroughs didn’t come until I decided, “If I have to fall flat on my face, if I have to make the biggest possible fool out of myself to be a good actor, then so be it.”

    As it turns out, my fear of failure and my fear of looking foolish were my biggest enemies. When I decided that it didn’t matter if I failed or looked foolish, they lost their power. Within a few months, my natural ability as an actor bloomed and flourished like a hyperactive rose on Miracle-Gro, and the opportunities started to pour in.

    Sometimes we have to battle our fears. Sometimes we have to embrace them and say, “I choose to risk it.”

    The old cliche is still true: What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.