Somebody far wiser than I once claimed that there is nothing to fear but fear itself.
[Archived post from an earlier blog, originally published on June 12th, 2013]
I would like to propose an amendment to such a statement:
There is nothing to fear but fear itself… and everything else in the universe.
And I mean everything. All the people, all the places and all the things under the sun, all coming with their own forms of fear, some of of it helpful, some of it not so much.
Think of public speaking, social gatherings, striking up a conversation with someone you’re attracted to, or being assertive when the moment calls.
Then there’s all those sundry other situations when fear threatens (and often succeeds!) to keep us barely treading water in the shallow, stagnant pool of our so-called comfort zone.
That fear is mostly unhelpful, unproductive, holds us back, keeps us down.
On the other side of town, there’s another kind of fear.
It’s the fear of being hit by a truck, or being electrocuted, or poisoned, or stabbed, or shot, or generally getting our ass kicked in some fashion or another.
That kind of fear is useful. It’s a fear which really just wants to stop us coming to physical harm or, you know, winding up dead.
Of course, the first form of fear can protect us too; from embarrassment, humiliation or rejection.
Doesn’t mean I have to like it.
After all, countless men and women have proved that the human ego can withstand an awesome amount of punishment and still bounce back to fight another day.
That is, so long as the owner of said ego doesn’t stray into oncoming traffic.
There’s a third form of fear too, the one that sits smack in the middle of the first two and encompasses…well, everything else.
The weird stuff, the deeply personal stuff, the fear of mice and spiders, of small holes and large dogs, the fear of clowns and criminals and yeah, of frogs.
In other words, the fears some people would call irrational.
Not me. Ask me about my fear of frogs and I’ll rationalize the hell out of it given half a chance.
None of those has anything to do with the fear of fear itself.
I do not fear the concept nor the process nor the idea of fear.
Sat here now, comfortable and at peace and a million miles away from most forms of fear (apart from the one that tells me you won’t like this post and will track me down and laugh at me about it), I actually welcome the stuff.
Fear will stop me running out into the path of an oncoming train. Fear will be the thing that drives me the next time I’m forced to summon the energy to battle my nerves, climb on stage, grab a microphone and address a crowd of strangers.
Fear itself will not define me. How I deal with it will.