Fear. It’s something that’s been on my mind a lot lately.
I started this new acting class a few weeks ago and on day 1 of the class, I had to stand up in front of everyone and talk about ten things on my bucket list. One thing I blurted out in an uncomfortable panic was “I want to live more fearlessly”. I thought about that more later. What does it mean to live your life “fearlessly”, without fear, and is that even possible?
I’ve been taking baby steps. For as long as I can remember, I’ve had an intense fear of the dark. I’m 28 years old and have been sleeping with a night light for the majority of my life. I challenged myself to stop, and I have, for the most part. (A few nights ago, Warner started barking at an empty corner in my living room and I left the bathroom light on all night just in case the ghost that he was so obviously yapping at decided to say hello to me as well.) Waking up in the morning knowing that my electric bill will be a little cheaper this month does feel pretty good. I gave myself I swift pat on the back.
But, what about the bigger stuff?
What are my bigger fears, my biggest fear?
I’m afraid of dying, rather, dying too soon. There’s so much I want to do in my life and I fear that I won’t have enough time to do it all. That’s a scary thought. It’s even scarier knowing that it’s something I can’t control. I don’t get to decide when my time is up, none of us do. So, how am I suppose to conquer a fear I can’t control?
Well, I started by realizing that I can control it, the fear, I mean. I can’t control my circumstances, but I can control how I look at them and allow them to affect me. I can choose not to be scared. Easier said than done, I know, but it’s do-able, and I’m starting to figure out how.
It all goes back to what I’ve touched on in previous posts. Living in the “now”. If I am present for every moment of my life, there’s no room to fear what could or couldn’t happen next. This “fear” is what Eckhart Tolle refers to as the “ego” and our egos can be a powerful force if we let them take over. The ego is the unconscious thought, our auto-pilot function. It’s the part of us that walks down the street so lost in the past or the future that we end up walking three blocks further than we needed to or tripping over a curb or getting hit by a car. The ego feeds off fear, that’s how it stays alive inside of us. Ironically, the ego fears us, our minds, and the power our minds possess. Because the ego is our unconscious thought, it can not survive if we are conscious and aware of it. The ego dies the moment we recognize it and observe it. It returns when we slip back into unconsciousness. If you haven’t read “The Power of Now” or “A New Earth”, this probably sounds like a lot of hippie-trippie mumbo jumbo, but I promise it’s not, and you should reallly, really read those books.
So, be more present, and be less fearful. Got it. Now, what else? What other big fears do I have to face?
This is hard to type.
Man, you people are lucky I don’t just keep a diary.
One of my biggest fears has been owning up to my feelings…. That’s too general.
One of my biggest fears has always been saying “I love you”. More specifically, saying it to someone I don’t just love, but someone I’m in love with.
I’ve never been the first one to say it in a relationship. I’ve never admitted it if I felt it wasn’t reciprocated. I haven’t acknowledged it if I thought it might end up hurting me. Love is a scary thing. Terrifying.
I remember the first time I thought I was in love. I was young and had a big, giant crush on a boy a little bit older than me. I thought I was “in love”, but it was more of a school girl infatuation, as most emotional roller coasters are in your pre-teen/teenage years. I would blush when I saw him in the halls at school, secretly scirbble his initials in the back of my notebooks, gush to my diary about how he said “hello” to me at a football game, and I got made fun of a lot for it. I think, because that was my first experience with these intense emotions, I was conditioned to think these feelings were always “wrong” or “too much”. Being told that at a young age, kind of set me up for failure in my adult life.
I know I’m not the only one who gets scared when it comes to loving another person. It takes a lot out of us and giving that to someone is no small feat. In the past, my fears have caused me to hesitate and miss a chance at being with someone, they’ve caused me to close off, and sometimes, they’ve caused me to cheat and hurt someone I really cared about. I’ve done a lot of stupid stuff because of this enormous fear, and recently, I decided enough was enough. Time to own up to my feelings and face my fears.
And, that’s what I did.
In the interest of protecting the innocent, I’m not going to share too much of how I finally faced my fear, but I’ll share a bit.
There was/is a boy who I fell for a while ago, and who did not reciprocate those feelings and was honest about that. I tried to play along and pretend that my feelings weren’t there. I put on my best poker face, and cutest outfits, and acted like the buddy he wanted me to be. I realized recently, I was doing all of that out of fear. I was afraid to tell him I loved him because I was afraid I would lose him. And then one day, I decided to be fearless. I bit the heart-shaped bullet and I confessed to him how I felt. It was the scariest thing I’ve ever done in my life, but man, am I glad I did it.
After I had poured my heart out and hung up the phone, I had that feeling you get after you’ve just come out of a haunted house or off of a scary roller coaster. That excited, accomplished feeling that makes you want to do it all over again. I took that as a good sign. Maybe, hopefully, the next time I fall for someone, I won’t be scared to say it. I’ll be excited to feel it. I think that’s how love is supposed to work, right?
I’ll end this post with some great advice I got from my four-year-old bestie on fear and being afraid. She told me that whenever you find yourself scared of something, you should stare it down and say out loud “What’s so scary about that?”.
So, what are you afraid of?
(Right now, I’m afraid of pushing the blue Publish button on this screen.)
Well…. “What’s so scary about that?”