I think that fear is a very real thing that comes to the forefront of everyone’s mind with each new year that begins. For me, after every holiday season ends, I get this ugly feeling in the pit of my stomach for a second—that everything I want to take on this year will just be pushed aside once again by fear. How can I ever accomplish this? How am I ever going to go there or do that? I thought of that very thing last night as I lay in bed, waiting to fall asleep.
This is the year I say goodbye to my day job for good and concentrate on my creative life. The very thing that fuels the essence of who I am Something miraculous is going to happen, and I will finally be seen, bringing money and purpose to all that I’ve been trying to build all these years. This is the year I throw caution and safety to the wind and simply believe that everything will be fine if I do what I was born to do and become who I was born to be. Surely that path could never lead me astray, right? This is the year that I 100% block out and walk away from everything and everyone toxic, because it’s time to start making this world understand that it’s a privilege to have me a part of this life, not an option. This is the year that I will be free from all fears, not letting them stand in the way of who I want to be and how I want to live anymore. Or is it?
As I lay there, plotting these affirmations in my head, I became anxious. Then, my heart started racing, and my breathing became very shallow. Soon enough, I was talking myself down from a panic attack. "What the fuck is wrong with me?" I thought. Everything is ok, and all is well; why was I feeling like this? But I knew—I knew all too well. My problem has always been the same: I AM AFRAID!
I decided to get up and grab the first book I could find so that I could read a few pages and take my mind off what was happening. Ironically, the book I chose was "BIG MAGIC" by Elizabeth Gilbert once more. I literally go back and re-read pages of this book all the time. Ironically, it’s because I somehow know it knows what’s wrong with me, and oddly enough, so did Ms. Gilbert.
For those of you who still have not read this book, do so! It’s incredible. For those of you who have, you know what I’m talking about. The first part of this book talks about having the courage to do something and the reason we don't—fear. The question posed was: Do we, as human beings, have the courage to bring forth the treasures that are hidden inside of us? I realized right there that the reason I was feeling so anxious in that moment was because fear was telling me in whispers that I didn’t have the courage to bring forth my treasures (build the life I wanted for myself). Quite frankly, I never did.
Now, if I’m being honest, it wasn’t exactly a huge "eureka moment." I have always known that fear plays an important role in my life, keeping me from things, but what I began to think about was what I could do if I wasn’t afraid of anything. When I realized that the list was becoming too long, it made me sad. Why was I letting this one emotion rule my life for so long, and how could I gradually overcome it so that I could potentially become courageous enough to tackle some of the scariest things this year?
So, I heard time and time again that on the other side of fear is something great, and I honestly do believe this to be true. After all, I’ve experienced it firsthand in my life, but it wasn’t enough to get me there, even with the bit of proof I already had.
I had to break it down into pieces.
Fear is obviously a natural emotion that we all experience from time to time, and it’s ok to feel it. After all, it’s a survival mechanism that helps us recognize and avoid dangerous situations, so that’s a good thing! However, if fear stops us from living our lives to the fullest and achieving the potential of our hidden treasures, as discussed in the book I was reading, this is a very bad thing. By allowing fear to overwhelm us, we can become prisoners to this emotion, paralyzed and unable to take any action for our happiness and well-being. If we aren’t careful, fear will dictate our every step, and we may end up living a life that is far from the one we truly desire. In a nutshell, there you have it, the full picture.
So, how do I overcome this fear and have the courage to live my life on my own terms, fully?
The next piece I will have to put together is to identify the source of my fear and understand the root cause of why I can't or won't do something. Then, I must figure out a way to challenge my negative thoughts by taking baby steps to help build my momentum and achieve more confidence in myself.
I also knew that I had to get back to self-care. I was doing so much for myself for a long time, but a few weeks ago I lost sight of things. I caught what I believe was a strain of COVID, and it feels like everything went out the window. All I cared about was smothering myself with softness and comfort. Unfortunately, this meant sitting around all day, watching TV, eating whatever made me feel better, having sleepless nights on some days and feeling extremely tired on others—absolutely no exercise for my body.
But instead of reverting back to the old me and giving myself a scolding over what had happened in the past month, I decided to give myself some grace. Yes, I comforted myself to get better, so what? It was part of the healing process. It reaffirmed once again that no one’s healing journey is a linear one. As we celebrate this thing called life, all sorts of events can happen. We don’t know what will be, so instead of worrying about what might be, I’m going to try to figure out a way that I can somehow leap off the edge.
This will undeniably be the biggest challenge of my life, and I thought cancer was a hard road. This one will surely kill me! But I have to try. I’m 49 now, and next year I will be entering the second phase of my life. I cannot let fear take center stage in everything forever. I know I’m always going to lead with fear initially, and I think I can make peace with that. But I feel like I’ll never truly be calm until I learn how to take chances.
Again, I’m no stranger to jumping into the unknown. I walked away from an abusive relationship and marriage, I came out about my mental illness, I fought cancer and the fear of trusting medical professionals to look after my well-being, and plenty of other things that no one knows about yet. I’ve overcome a lot, and my record of success is 100%. That’s not to say that everything I did ended easily or favorably, because it didn’t. The success rate is listed as perfect because I lived through it, and that took absolute faith and courage. So, I just have to keep working and keep chipping away at this entity called fear in my life, one day at a time.
This project is not something that will be solved entirely in 2023, but strides in the right direction will certainly be made. The Fearless Path: How to courageously face my fears and create a life that I love. Which in fact flows perfectly with my mantra for the year: No fear, just peace.
What would I do if I wasn’t afraid?
I would travel the world and not worry if anyone could come along. I would do it all by myself if I had to.
I would write book after book and not worry if people liked it or not.
I would write music and songs again.
I would join a band or choir and sing again.
I'd join a gym without fear of being judged by others, who would laugh and stare at me, wondering why I was there.
I would try everything I wanted without worrying that I could fail.
I would drive anywhere like a free spirit.
I would wear whatever I wanted and not worry that others were judging my choices because of my body type.
I would quit my day job today, even if it meant being financially uncomfortable for a while, because I knew that I’d be spending all my time working on projects that were meaningful and inspiring to me.
I would start a couple of grass-roots organizations for charity purposes.
I would give every cent I had to helping others in need.
I would stand up to people I know who are blatantly racist and close-minded.
I would tell everyone exactly what I think, without the sugar coating.
I would have had children.
Those were only a mere few that made my list. What would make yours?