I Ain’t Afraid of No Fear

Written by: Gracie Mayer, contributing writer 

I like to keep it real with myself.  I like to give myself mini check-ins to remind myself that I need to chase goals that bring my soul joy instead of buying whatever society is selling, dictating what I’m “supposed” to do.  I like to ask myself a mini-20 questions, pretending like I’m on a first date — well, that is if first dates moved beyond the “crazy weather we are having this week…” small talk to something actually deep, meaningful and vulnerable.

I ask questions like:

What would you try if you knew you could not fail?

What dream would you chase if you had no fear?

What would you tell the people you love if you knew it would be heard, received and the answer positive and receptive?

Who would you love if there were no constraints, judgements or threats to you and that person?

What feelings or emotions would you express if you knew that there would be no negative repercussions and you would truly be heard and seen?

I have been thinking about fear and the looming idea that there are dreams in this life we cannot attain or goals we cannot achieve.  I have been thinking about the paralyzing fear I have felt in my own life: fear of failing, fear of falling, fear of the unknown, fear of it ending, fears of

I like to keep it real with myself.  I like to give myself mini check-ins to remind myself that I need to chase goals that bring my soul joy instead of buying whatever society is selling, dictating what I’m “supposed” to do.  I like to ask myself a mini-20 questions, pretending like I’m on a first date — well, that is if first dates moved beyond the “crazy weather we are having this week…” small talk to something actually deep, meaningful and vulnerable.

I ask questions like:

What would you try if you knew you could not fail?

What dream would you chase if you had no fear?

What would you tell the people you love if you knew it would be heard, received and the answer positive and receptive?

Who would you love if there were no constraints, judgements or threats to you and that person?

What feelings or emotions would you express if you knew that there would be no negative repercussions and you would truly be heard and seen?

I have been thinking about fear and the looming idea that there are dreams in this life we cannot attain or goals we cannot achieve.  I have been thinking about the paralyzing fear I have felt in my own life: fear of failing, fear of falling, fear of the unknown, fear of it ending, fears of not being loved in return, fears of living a mediocre life that lacks adventure or spontaneity, fear of being alone, fear of answering the phone, fear of setting boundaries, fear of stating my opinion unapologetically, fear of asking for something to be explained again, fear of following through, and perhaps most paramount – fear of checking my online banking app for my balance.

I love toying with the questions that free me from the constraints of my fear.  I love these questions because often they reveal the true longings of my soul.  But there is also another part of me that thinks fear is a good and necessary part of the human experience.  Yes, yes, fear is a necessary evolutionary defense mechanism that keeps us alive, running from bears, and out of busy streets.  But deeper than these reasons, I think there is a true triumph and inner strength that comes from conquering one’s fears and overcoming thoughts of doubt or uncertainty.  It is disheartening for me to think that as children many of us didn’t have fears of failing or fears of ending up alone or not living up to our fullest potential.  The world may have seemed limitless – which is also why many of us broke arms jumping off the monkey bars, being under the impression that wings suddenly grow the minute your body free falls.  As we grow, the world often reveals aspects of life that plant seeds of doubt within us and leave us with lists of fears – some rational and some very irrational.  But, I have found that while I still battle many of my fears, naming these fears has helped me own pieces of myself and begin the journey of loving those parts and sending them healing.

One fear that I have worked on since the onset of my eating disorder is overcoming the fear of what other’s think of me.  I always lived for others’ praise and approval but soon the fear of letting people down became so ever present that I did begin letting people down – I stopped returning calls, stopped wanting to go spend time with people, stopped showing up and stopped following through.  I have slowly had to consciously work to answer emails, phone calls, invitations and duties.  I still struggle, but I have learned that honesty is the best policy, and if you say “no,” the person may not feel as let down as if you were to outright ignore them.

The second fear that I have fought and fought to overcome is the fear of taking up space.  It is odd, because I am not sure that this fear had ever really plagued me until I looked into some shame I had surrounding some trauma that had happened to me as a child.  All of a sudden I didn’t feel I deserved to take up space – I was unlovable, gross, disgusting, dirty, and undeserving.  Overcoming this fear and beginning the journey of believing I deserved to take up space was life changing, and something that has forever changed how I view myself and how I view the world.  If this fear had never entered my life, I would have never found such a profound sense of purpose and belonging.

This is the conclusion that I have come to: yes, it would be wonderful if there was no more fear.  But there is also so much strength and growth that comes from overcoming our fears.  So, do I wish I had no fears?  Some days I think it might make life easier, but I am grateful for what my fears teach me about myself and in the process of overcoming my fears, I often find inner strength and deeper connections to my community.  So no, I ain’t ‘fraid of no fear