This year has quickly become the year where I want to stop trusting my fear more than my own common judgement. Now, this year, at only seven months young, only a little over halfway through its existence, has proven remarkably stressful for pretty much everyone.
While fear is certainly around most everyday in some way or another, there seems to be more fears lately.
Fear, amplified. Fear for the future, fear of no future, fear to misspeak, fear that your voice will be unheard, or worst, ignored. The list can go on.
Fear is so common, so prevalent in the human existence, that there is an entire day of the year dedicated to overcoming your fears. October 14th, affectionately entitled, “Face Your Fears” day.
As a recent college graduate, there are many fears for me to get familiar with. For any graduate in general there have always been some fears. But now, those same fears have seeped together like watercolour with the rest of the added intensity of the world.
Fear has gained a lot of traction so far this year.
It’s entirely easy to be fearful right now, and rightfully justified in many manners for people to be deeply affected by the world as it’s rapidly changing; for both good and bad it seems.
Undoubtedly, I am a person who is fortunate and will remain relatively unaffected by much of what the world faces currently. I am a privileged person who does not live in daily fear. Likely, I will never have to face imminent fear.
Yet, I have remained fearful of two things most of my adolescent life: judgement and failure.
Now, these two things are very dynamic fears, unique in their ability to beat against each person’s brain based on their own experiences and insecurities. It seems as though, no matter how strong-willed or unwavering a person may be in their confidence, they often still fear one of these two things at some point. Perhaps, like me, you have feared them simultaneously.
I recently read Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Big Magic, which speaks all about fear. Specifically, Gilbert writes of creative fear, but fear nonetheless. She spends a significant amount of the book explaining her own fearfulness.
This already seemed wacky to me; this woman, the same woman who dropped everything to go travel across three continents for a year, the author of Eat Pray Love, and National Book Award finalist, was just as fear ridden as me?
Once into her adult years, she realised something that hasn’t left my mind through my own cumbersome journey with fear. Her all-consuming fears were boring.
I had never once thought of fear in this respect. Heartbreaking and self depreciating at times, sure, but boring? Her rationalisation of this adjective quickly changed my mind though.
Simply put, our fears never change. They are the same everyday when they show up, never wavering in their ability to knock us on our keister or taunt us to submission. The reality is, if we allow our fears to become us and consume our existence, then we, like our fears, will remain just as boring.
I have been existing as a fearfully boring person for a while now and, I’m just speaking personally here, I don’t want to let the fear lead anymore.
The great American author, Zora Neale Hurston, once said to, “Grab the broom of anger and drive it out the beast of fear.” So, I am breaking up with fear.
Fear, you poor boring creature, I would like to evict you from my space. Vacate the premises immediately, at your earliest convenience. Actually, scratch that—at my earliest convenience.
Fear will look sad as I tell it the news, a difficult thing to hear I imagine, and probably painful. Maybe a bit out of the blue. If I think back though, reminiscing with fear quickly before changing the locks, we’ll both notice that we’ve never gotten along very well.
Fear made me sad and insecure. I fought fear with the hope that fear would leave on its own. But it never did. Because of this, I ask fear to pack its things. Fear doesn’t have much to collect. I’ll ask fear to please, please take all her useless nonsense with her. I sure don’t want it around me anymore.
Fear can stay in the neighbourhood; this I’ve accepted, since fear will never really ever be able to leave. But, living in my intimate space will no longer be tolerated.
I’m realistic, I understand that I need fear sometimes. Although, even when fear is around when I need it for necessary survival, she’s still not pleasurable. I may need fear sometimes, but there is simply no room for her to be around constantly anymore.
I’ll be nice when I see her on the street. I’ll wave like nothing’s happened at all. And I’ll smile and think kindly, “fear was only following all she knew.” I know better now though and deserve a much better, liveable environment. Fear was a cluttered visitor, leaving their things everywhere for me to clean up later. Once I felt momentarily stronger with less tears, less quivering hands, but still facing fear’s scattered reminders.
Fear had always been the most inconsiderate tenant of them all.
I’d like to skip ahead to the point where fear has already gone. The chapter near the end of the story where it’s been only a short while since fear moved out.
A moving truck came, rumbling and noisy in the morning. Everything was loaded swiftly. No one spoke as I sipped my coffee and watched everyone scurry back and forth; taking, taking, taking in a way that felt good for once. Fear is down the street somewhere now and I didn’t bother to ask for the new address.
I’ll still remember all fear’s belongings. Perhaps I’ll have to clean the dust that they collected around their edges on shelves or corner tables. But I’ll no longer have to see them everyday. Because today, I’m breaking up with fear.
Now that all of Fear’s clutter is in the moving truck, that space of mine is white and clean. The light comes in from the windows at a downward angle, touching the floors and walls. Empty as a canvas, in a peaceful lingering. There is a bit of remaining dust, just floating in the bright light streams, and I don’t mind. What fear left has been made beautiful by what can be.
This space is more full without you, fear. You can’t see it, but the space is filled.