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A Letter To Fear

Dear Fear:

Over the past few months, I’ve had the opportunity to really sit with myself and examine every aspect of my life. All the things I’ve dreamt of doing (and still want to do), the way I want to love and be loved, all the ways I’ve wanted to be seen by others, the goals I’ve wanted to achieve, the kind of career I envision for myself, the way I treat my body, the standards I set for myself, the respect I deserve, and all the ways I want to advocate for myself and others. In all these ways that I could have created myself but chose not to, the one common denominator has always been you. You are the reason that none of this was ever possible, why none of it ever happened. I think I always had an idea that you were behind all this unhappiness, but now I am most definitely certain. My breath has always been held because I have been afraid of everything.

You kept me in a world of uncertainty. All the doubts, all the insecurities, all the times I gave up on everything, it was because I was afraid of failing, and that is something that you put in my head. I couldn’t possibly be good enough for that man, for that job, for that dream. Leave it for someone else more equipped and confident. You’ve always found a way to make me feel small—like I was nothing! I based my worth on what you whispered to me, in every situation.

I have always been afraid of standing up for myself, too afraid to advocate for what I wanted, uncertain that I could ever win a battle against you. It has always been easier to bow down to you gracefully and be content with the little scraps of happiness you threw my way, whenever you thought it was deserved. It felt safer not to ask questions, for fear that my heart would beat its last rhythm and then explode. It was better to accept how mediocre my life was than to challenge you and risk causing myself days or weeks of anxiety and panic that I might not survive but I’m tired of being scared. Living a small life doesn’t sit well with me anymore – it honestly never has. You’re nothing but a bully, throwing your weight around, screaming in my ear that I could never possibly win, knowing that I would never fight back.

What you didn’t count on is that every single time you threw me down into that pit of darkness, I crawled back out. It may have taken months, and sometimes years, but I always resurfaced. I kept peeling back the layers of darkness, chipping away at it, bit by bit, until small traces of light emerged. It was always the way I escaped.

But as much as I hate to admit that anything good came from your actions, I must give credit where it’s due. I know now that you had a place in my narrative. You were the main component, mentoring me, in your own twisted way, to become the hero of my own story. In many ways, all the pent-up frustration you caused over the years, has now ignited an unquenchable fire within me. One that only builds in momentum. Now I realize that throughout my entire life, most of the decisions I’ve made were derived from fear. You always provided a plethora of evidence as to why I couldn’t move forward in creating the life I knew I wanted for myself.

So today I give you what you’ve always wanted – my attention. I give it to you only to say this:

Fear, I see you. I see you lurking over my shoulder and hear you in every thought. I acknowledge that you gained momentum in my life because I gave you center stage every time. I know that your initial presence in my life was/is only to protect me from all the dangers in this world, and that sometimes you get carried away. We don’t have to be enemies, as I think we’d make the very best allies. I don’t like that you take me away from my life, almost kidnapping me. You want me to live in darkness where you believe that I am safest, but I can only grow in light. I need light. So, I am pulling you out of the shadows to dwell with me in the sun. This is where we can work together and dissect a new blueprint for my future. The new person I am has the power to banish you from my life altogether, but instead I invite you to stay. I welcome you to speak your peace and share your opinion and perspective, but you are no longer allowed to whisper your anxious thoughts in my ears, where I will mistake your voice for my own ever again. This I will not allow.

I know that I will always be afraid of things in my life, and that’s OK. I own and accept that. Fear is normal. But what I will work on is taking ownership of that fear, and not allowing it to dictate how I live.

I forgive you for all the painful, destructive moments you’ve caused in my life, but I am also thankful that you exist. You are the continual stimulus and driving force of all my actions.

Where overwhelming negativity once lived, it has now made way for undying gratitude and self-compassion. My heart is filled with an unexplainable wave of it. I have reached new ground in my life where I can breathe and appreciate my moments as enough. Fear, you made me realize that I haven’t fallen behind because of your actions. Instead, you helped bring me to this place. It is in this place that I was introduced to myself fully, where I found and fell in love with who I am in this moment. Because of this realization, now I can finally begin the next chapter of coming into my own.

"If you are busy focusing on the falling bricks, you will never realize that they are truly stepping-stones that you need to cross over to the next phase of your life."
Kemi Sogunle

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