First draft: fear

photo-1Fear is an interesting thing. It is a creation of the mind – it cannot be grasped or caged – and yet it is a driving force behind almost everything we do (or don’t do).

On the most basic level, fear is actually very good. It keeps us from doing stuff like jumping off a cliff, biking down a mountain, or swimming with sharks. Fear protects us. It is our subconscious telling us that what we are about to do is potentially lethal. People still do these things, and some can afford the protection to do them safely, but overall it is fear that keeps us alert. It keeps us safe, and ultimately, alive.

And yet, fear also has a way of controlling us. Instead of being a tool to keep you safe, it becomes an excuse to keep you comfortable. If you’re afraid, it has the last say in everything. Fear keeps us from things that cannot even bring us physical harm of any kind. Fear keeps us from trying new hobbies, making friends, and taking a risk that could have extreme value in the future.

When I set out to write this post, I originally wanted it to be a pep talk on why you shouldn’t let fear stop you from doing anything. I wanted to coax you out of your shell and see you take the leap you’ve been scared to take. Just do it (#Nikeswoosh)! It was going to be so inspirational! But then, as I was writing, a friend asked if I would consider coming out to her school and teach a writers workshop for her 7th grade class. My first thought was, “Absolutely not!”. What if the kids in a grammar/writing class would be more qualified than I am? What if I choke on my words and make no sense at all? I’m a writer, not a speaker.

However, an opportunity like this doesn’t come around every day. What if I find that I love to teach? What if that opens up new possibilities in the future? What if I learn something of value from the experience, which I undoubtedly will? You see, fear can keep us from bringing severe physical harm to ourselves, but fear can also hold us back from experiencing life and taking risks that could prove to be invaluable. It can keep us from taking action on things that could change our life for the better.

If you’re a writer, or you have the dream to be one, seriously think about the things you are afraid of. Figure out what you’re afraid of and why, and weigh the potential benefits. The hope is that you’ll find your fear is not justified, and you can move forward knowing that even in the worst case scenario you’ll be okay, and possibly even better off than before.

In the end, know that you are not alone in your battle with fear. I am also afraid, and have some decisions to make. But I am hoping we can all get to a place of moving forward with confidence. Let’s not allow fear to have the last say.

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