I was one page into I Thought it was Just Me (But it isn’t) by Brene Brown, when I came across the line “each and every one willingly embraced their fears…” And instantly I was just so entranced by it. I couldn’t even keep reading past that line.
Just think about it for a minute – the powerful and exquisite concept of embracing our fears. What does embracing your fears look like? Why should we do it? Why is it so important? What’s the outcome?
So I thought about it for a hot minute and the following is what I came up with…
A wise professor once shared in his lecture that, as humans, we are hardwired to avoid pain and to seek pleasure. We avoid what we’re afraid of because it’s our natural instinct to survive – fight vs. flight.
Obviously, this can be necessary in our everyday interactions – we look both ways before crossing the street, we talk ourselves out of questionable gas station sushi, and we avoid dark alleys late at night. The point of embracing the fear is not to abandon precaution. It is not to behave recklessly and to throw yourself into dangerous situations.
Embracing the fear is the ability to step into the unknown and to face the uncertainty, believing in not only a positive outcome, but also in yourself. It’s you taking a chance on something that could be great and facing the possibility that it might turn out that way. It’s getting out of your comfort zone and challenging yourself.
Because really, what is life without fear? Taking away fear would be equivalent to taking the pain away. You can’t experience true happiness without experiencing true pain; just like you can’t experience a true thrill without the accompanying fear.
It was Ralph Waldo Emerson who said, “What we fear of doing most is usually what we most need to do.” Fear can either paralyze you or it can move you forward. The choice is up to you.
So this past year, I chose to embrace my fear. I jumped off of a twenty foot quarry. I colored my hair blue. I turned down a job offer. I spontaneously got my cartilage pierced. I sought out therapy. I talked to my family and friends about depression. I fell in love. I forgave when it would have been easier to move on. I supported myself, by myself.
And it definitely wasn’t easy. Many of the embraced fears were extremely challenging. This past year has been one of my hardest years – I have cried more and felt more pain than ever before. But it has also been one of my most rewarding years – because for as many tears I’ve shed, I’ve laughed just as much. I finally stepped outside of my comfort zone and truly lived.
I will say that embracing your fear doesn’t always lead to life-altering events. Sometimes, it doesn’t even work out in your favor.
And so now, I’m embracing a new fear: the fear of being along and the fear of letting others in. Through my writing, I’ll let you in to my almost always chaotic mind. But hopefully, by letting you in, being alone won’t seem so lonely.
I also encourage you to embrace your own fears. Speak you mind, even if your voice shakes. Dance terribly, even when people are watching. Apply for the position, even if it’s a long-shot. Give someone a second, third, or fourth chance, even if everyone tells you you’re crazy.
Maybe it’ll be worth it. Maybe it won’t. But you’ll never know if you don’t try.
Here’s a couple of my favorite quotes that I stumbled on about fear…
“Fear is a manipulative emotion that can trick us into living a boring life.” – Donald Miller
“I’ve been thinking a lot lately about taking chances, and how it’s really just about overcoming your fears. Because the truth is, every time you take a big risk in your life, no matter how it ends up, you’re always glad you took it.” – Scrubs