Reading through my notes on my iPhone this morning, I found a passage I wrote to myself on the June day that I drove to Massachusetts to sign my apartment lease. That eight-hour trip to the new world I would soon inhabit left me speechless, tearful, queasy, and irritable. Discovering this passage couldn’t have come at a better time; my reflection on how I’ve weathered the storms in this transitional chapter of my life gives me hope that I’ll be able to handle the uncertainty I face with my future career and the shaky state of the world that I live in. Hopefully, it can offer some comfort to those who are similarly facing any kind of uncertainty.
I used to coin fear as a villain. Fear is uncomfortable. Whether or not it leads to headaches, queasiness, and tears (which it usually does), it never fails to make me think too much.
However, after facing various transitions in my life, I’ve found that fear is not the infamous destroyer-of-all-good-things that I’ve made it out to be. Despite lacking a cool name and a clever sense of humor, fear is in fact my trusted sidekick.
While I don’t particularly enjoy feeling fear, it is in those moments when I am most insecure that I am also most vulnerable. My true desires, passions, and strengths shine through. My ego is wiped clean, and my id has room to breath. My soul is tested -- I must discern the truth. Who do I really want to be? What truly matters in my life?
The fear washes over me, wipes me clean, wrings me dry, and leaves me with nothing left to give but the deepest, fullest, most authentic parts of myself. The parts that are ready to fight. The parts that are full of the fire that could light up a world.
I can either choose to hide underneath my covers with endless Netflix, or I can choose to fight, to live, to become. By facing that fear, I am learning. That fear has lessons to teach me about my own strength, my capabilities and talents, the people I can always rely on, and what truly makes my soul sing.
Maybe it's time to embrace the fear, to invite it at my table for a meal. No, it does not get to dictate my life; I get to choose how I will face things. Rather, the fear pushes me to get the most out of my strengths and abilities. All of my opportunities that have been the scariest have also turned out to be the most fulfilling. They were the ones that taught me the most, that brought the most joy, that left me more self-aware and authentic.
I now understand, more than ever, that fear is just looking out for all of the obstacles that may pop up in the future — all of those possible problems that could be uncomfortable and difficult. Without all of that discomfort, I lie stagnant in the confusion of life with nowhere to go. Fear kicks me in the butt and forces me to keep moving, discovering, learning, and fully opening my heart to possibilities.
And for that, I am thankful for fear.