Fear— it happens to the best of us. We’ve all heard the saying “fear is an illusion,” but I don’t believe that to be true. It is as real as any of the other emotions that we feel and experience in our lives. Maybe not daily or even as often as others, but we’ve all felt fear and had to decide how (or if) we would move past it. Instead of trying to convince ourselves that fear isn’t real, I think that it’s important that we not only get to the bottom of fear by finding out the reason for it, but also to work arduously to overcome it. No matter what it is in life that we fear doing or becoming, the best way to overcome it is to face it head first. The fear is real, but what the fear tells us we can’t do or become is where the illusion lies.
Recently, I finally finished a personal project that I began literally years ago. Three years ago to be exact. I had so many questions and couldn’t see the answers in sight. “How will I finish?” “What will happen once I’m finished?” “How will this project be received?” “Will it be successful?” “Will I be successful?” This fear of the unknown often left me feeling stuck and unable to proceed with whatever the next step of the project was, which ultimately led me to putting the project off far longer than I would’ve liked. Then one day it hit me: What’s the worst that could happen? I could either finish the project and find the answers along the way, or I could give up and feel like I’ve failed myself and my dreams. And since regret seemed far worse than confronting any fears along the way, I got to work. That was the best decision I could have ever made. A long three years later, and the project was complete. Today I can’t imagine all the questions I’d still have if I had given up.
Zig Ziglar said, “Fear has two meanings: ‘Forget Everything and Run’ or ‘Face Everything and Rise.’ The choice is yours.” That holds true for each and every one of us no matter what we aim to do in life. Whoever said that fear is an illusion must have been living in some sort of fantasy world. It’s real and it can be very crippling. But the thing about fear is that it always gives us the opportunity to prove it wrong, we just have to seize that opportunity each time it presents itself. If we stopped in our tracks every time we got to a step that scared us, can you imagine where we’d be? Can you recall the amount of times you were scared out of your mind to do something and did it anyway? Do you remember how good you felt about yourself? Now on the contrary, can you imagine how many times you gave up on something because of the ‘what ifs” and “how’s?” Can you imagine where you’d be in life right now if you just did that one thing that you’ve always wanted to do? Fear isn’t the most exciting emotion we experience, but it’s as important as any other emotion we experience because it gives us the chance to explore the strength that we didn’t even know we had. We always have the same two options each time fear presents itself: Run or Rise!
So the next time you get an idea to do something you’ve never done before, just do it! If you don’t get it right the first time, you can always try again. Heck! Even if you don’t get it right the second or third time, you can keep trying. The more we try, the more we learn. And the more we learn, the more we grow. We don’t have to live with fear just because it invites itself into our many experiences. We just have to make the commitment to keep working in spite of it. But even if fear made itself at home in our heads and hearts far longer than we’d like it to, it’s still a much better roommate than regret. We can decide to evict fear at any moment we choose, but the feeling of regret can stay with us until our dying days. So which would you prefer? When I asked myself that very same question, I decided that I’d much rather work with fear than with regret. Hopefully you decide the same thing. And once you do, it’s time to acknowledge those fears and rise above them anyway. And if at any moment you start to feel stuck, remember that the things we fear most are the things that will bring us the greatest joy in the end as long as we see it through. Now get to work!