Fear is a funny thing, guys. A funny thing, but also very necessary. If you go back in history, fear was what enabled the cavemen (and cavewomen because I’m pretty sure they were out there kicking some serious mammoth ass along with their male counterparts) to identify a dangerous situation. Fear heightens your senses, pumps adrenaline into your system, and it helps you survive whatever it is that’s scaring you.
And since we no longer have mammoths IRL–our lives are a lot less difficult and fewer stakes are raised–our fears tend to be the things we manifest inside ourselves. They’re the things we let fester, the dreams we never pursue, the chances we don’t take, the places we never visit, the people we never admit to loving, and the jobs we never apply for. There are so many things to be afraid of, but most of these things reside inside our own head. Because what if we fail? What if we never recover? What if, what if, what if?
But what it we don’t?
What if we do the scariest thing of all–what if we actually get everything we ever wanted?
I had a former track coach who would always tell me that you should get uncomfortable, because being uncomfortable is where you begin to see changes. (If only I had a dollar for every time he lovingly barked this sentiment as I sweated through 200 meter suicides, my snazzy new Nike Frees would pay for themselves.) And it’s true–not just in the biological sense that your body responds to harder work by adapting and becoming stronger, but because your mind becomes stronger, too. You begin to withstand the scary things, the things you never thought you were capable of. And in this, you become more resilient.
Because being scared is uncomfortable. Being afraid is supposed to be uncomfortable–it lights that metaphorical fire under your ass in order to tell you to work towards being more comfortable. But there are two ways that you can do this: either retreating, and avoiding the thing in the first place, or working through it to the other side. Riding out the uncomfortable and the scary until you’re stronger and things aren’t as scary anymore. Fight or flight. Do or die.
Laughing in the face of fear and doing the damned thing anyway.
And of course, in order to really understand how to withstand the scary things life throws at us (relationships, jobs, failure, spiders and a serious Chik-fil-a craving on a Sunday afternoon), you have to get to the bottom of why you think it’s scary. Why it gets under your skin, why it terrifies you, why it dregs up memories of all the other times you faced scary things and didn’t come out stronger on the other side. There’s a whole host of reasons, really, and each will vary from person to person. But I think one of the things that connects this fear we all experience isn’t all that unique.
We’re most afraid of being happy. Of having a good life. A great life.
Not that we don’t want to–oh, of course we do. But we wonder if we deserve a good life, a great life. This doubt creeps in and we’re left second-guessing ourselves when we have to stand up to the thing that is in the way of our happiness. Of whatever it is we want. After all, what would happen if we wound up getting everything we wanted? What if it all got taken away?
But I guess that’s a risk with everything you do. So you might as well face the scary parts head on, because chances are, the outcome you want least to happen, might happen anyway. Whether you tried or not.
And if you don’t try, the what if–the magical, fantastical, best-case-scenario–will never happen at all.
Do the things that scare you. Get uncomfortable. Get really uncomfortable. Stand your ground. Speak up and go after the things you want, no matter how scary it is. Apply for that job, tell the person you’re crushing on that you like them, take that risk.
And if you do wind up with everything you ever wanted it’s because you did that work. You put in the effort, you found the grit within yourself, you realized that the scariest things in this world can sometimes be the most wonderful.
We’re scared of change, is all. But change is good for us. Great, even.
Change is how we learn, how we grow, how we overcome those mammoths.
And there’s nothing more fulfilling or badass than that, my friends.