I come from a place where the term “fearless” is thrown around quite often. It has almost been twisted to insinuate that the word “fearless” is somehow synonymous with being authentic. For example, someone who is fearless may just say “exactly what’s on their mind” without regard of additional perspectives or impact to others.
I am here to tell you today, that fear is real and that doing anything of actual purpose or meaning, “fearlessly,” is just a huge load of shit.
Fear is real.
I am not here to debate anybody’s theological belief system or attempt to rationalize salvation with others, but I will use the best example of a historical figure that I know.
Luke shares of the moment when Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane the evening prior to the crucifixion. Knowing what was to come, Luke describes Jesus as being in “agony” to the point where he was sweating drops of blood. Hematidrosis is the scientific term for this phenomenon; where one sweats blood due to an extremely high level of stress or anxiety. I’d probably be pretty stressed out if I were about to be crucified as well.
Either way, the point is, if the one person who was supposedly sent to save the whole world can be stressed or have anxiety to the point of sweating blood, that’s enough to say that fear is real (for me, anyway).
I am sure Jesus had a tremendous heart, better than me, for sure. Because had somebody, in a moment like that, approached me and encouraged me to be “fearless,” I probably would want to body slam them into the deepest level of the Earth and make sure they never see the light of day again.
But, that’s just me.
Doing anything new, adventurous, or with a deeper purpose will involve fear.
Some of the most important and meaningful moments of my life were accomplished while in the midst of being absolutely terrified.
I will never forget the moment, several years back, where I looked at my best friend and shared with her the craziest idea that I had ever had; to somehow plan and facilitate a nation-wide silent protest. I was frightened to death of a response such as, “Why?” or “That’s just way too big.” but she didn’t. She said, “Ok. Let’s do it.” and actually allowed me to believe that I could somehow pull this thing off. That season of my life happened to be one where everything lined up. Oddly enough, it was in the midst of the 2008-2009 recession, where my two jobs could barely allow me to work a few hours a week, so I had plenty of time to invest in this gigantic project. The right people just happened to come along to get behind and support the vision. I dedicated so many resources and it will forever be one of the most incredible things I have ever been a part of.
Another extremely important moment in my life, while being simultaneously horrified, was about 4 years ago. I was sitting across from my boss at the time, trembling with fear (not exaggerating, my legs were shaking, I distinctly recall trying to physically hold them still) because I was about to tell this man, who held the fate of my career in his hands, that I thought he was wrong. In that particular season of life, my biggest aspiration was to be promoted to a Leadership position in the company that I had worked for. I was taking the risk of potentially committing career suicide. Not only was this Leader, so gracious with the feedback that I gave him; later down the road, he acknowledged me in an all-store meeting with an award for giving him the best feedback he had ever received while in his current position. But the truth was, I was so scared. I was certain I would puke all over myself before I actually got all the words out. I was everything but fearless.
Fearless is full of ego.
Oppositely and more recently, I went into a conversation with somebody in a very “fearless” manner. And very quickly, it was revealed to me that I didn’t take anything from this person’s perspective into consideration. I went in, fearlessly assuming, I was right and they were wrong and then, fearfully, I found myself in a gigantic mess of words that could not be unsaid.
If I don’t have a bit of a knot in the pit of my stomach before I am about to walk into a somewhat difficult conversation with somebody, I may need to check myself. It’s likely that I am currently being blinded by pride and don’t have a person’s best interest at heart. And if you are in a position of Leadership or authority, that is one thing that should be at the forefront of your mind at all times; the best interest of your team members. You impact their lives in a tremendous way. That’s nothing to take lightly.
Fear is boring.
In Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert, she says something incredible. “Your fear is the most boring thing about you.”
You’re probably thinking, “But you just told me that you experienced some of your most important life moments while being afraid.”
The actions that I took, were some of the most memorable and important. I just happened to also be full of fear while doing them.
We are ALL afraid. Every single one of us. It’s the way we are wired. You know, something about human nature and survival instincts, blah blah blah. You have fear. I have fear. We are all afraid. THAT is the boring part. Are you going to let the boring thing, that every single person on Earth struggles with, prevent you from living out important and meaningful moments in your life?
Find a way to live with your fear.
Let me say that again. LIVE with your fear. LIVE your life. You may be afraid, but you will be truly living. The point is NOT to be fear-less. The point is to take action regardless.
We need to find a way to co-exist with our fear. Truly, if we are not afraid, we are not doing anything challenging or worth risk. We need fear to know we are on the brink of something bigger than ourselves.
I would rather deal with “Fraud” or “Imposter” syndrome any day of the week, versus, not living out my life and its purpose at all, because my boring fear rules and dictates my life’s outcome. Do that shit afraid. It doesn’t matter. Just do it.
Are you letting your fear hold you back and paralyze you? Have you been caught in the lie of needing to be “fearless?” What have you learned from it? Share your journey in the comments below.