Over the past several days, I have been thinking a lot about fear. It’s purpose. It’s function.
How do you deal with fear?
When I was in my twenties, I loved watching the show ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ (ok, I still love watching ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ when I actually get the chance). The level of talent–what those dancers can do with their bodies–is unbelievable.
But more than anything, I was impressed by the courage it takes to go after your dream, especially in a public forum like national TV. The idea of putting yourself out there and potentially failing in front of so many people was mind boggling to me. At the time I was living in a ski town, working in the hospitality industry in a job that I excelled at, but didn’t love. I was having fun, but I wasn’t pushing myself. It was comfortable. Safe.
I wanted more.
So my husband-to-be and I moved to Seattle, and I went back to school for graphic design. That first day of school, I was terrified. I remember sitting in my car, in this hip new city that I knew nothing about, with sweaty palms, giving myself a pep talk about putting one foot in front of the other and making it into the classroom.
Design and art, like dance, are creative endeavors–and the product of your labor is put out in the world for all to see. And judge.
It was daunting, yes. But there was this small voice, pushing me. Telling me that I’d always regret it if I didn’t get out there and try.
And do you know what happened? I LOVED design school. I LOVE illustration. These days, I put myself out there for the world to see, and judge, all the time.
It isn’t easy. I still give myself pep talks on a regular basis. But I also feel like I am really living my life.
What I have learned about fear:
1. Never let fear stop you from trying something. Listen to it. Honor it. Hear what it has to say–but don’t let it hold you back.
2. Failing isn’t really failing. Every time I have lost or “failed” at something, I have learned far more than when I was successful. Then I pick myself up, dust myself off, and get back in the saddle.
3. What other people think of you is none of your business. People are going to judge what you do. Do it anyway.
4. Listen and trust your instincts. Stay mindful, so that you can hear that little voice urging you on. It’s telling you where you need to go, what you need to do next. Heed your own wisdom, even (especially?) if it scares you.
When I’m 85, I don’t want to regret anything because I didn’t have the guts to try. Do you?