Maybe the problem for me is that I was taught that courage is a lack of fear. And it took me too long to realise how absurd that notion is. And I instead learned to yield to The Fear. And I let it paralyse me, thinking that The Fear was the problem.
The Fear was never the problem.
The problem was that I had let it become The Fear. I let The Fear be the most important thing – more important than my dreams; my values; my potential; my humanity. Now, many years after realising that The Fear was never the problem, I am still trying to undo the damage of that deeply ingrained pattern of fleeing from the things that scare me.
It’s really quite funny to me, because I have the benefit of also knowing the truly scary things that I did not flee from. The abhorrent situations I stayed in, because leaving was scarier. The times I risked myself in very real ways, to avoid speaking out. The beautiful things I walked away from because I was scared to let them in.
When I was in primary school, I always knew the answer to the questions that the teacher asked. But at around about age seven, I stopped raising my hand. I assumed everybody knew the answer to the question, but I noticed other children rarely raised their hands. I also made the deduction that my classmates resented me if I raised my hand too much. I started reading into what it meant to raise your hand – essentially what it meant to contribute – thinking there must be some calculation I wasn’t aware of about how often or under what circumstances you are supposed to offer what you have.
I started rationing my hand raises. Doling them out every three questions, maybe, or five, or seven. As I got older and the questions got harder, I started only answering when I knew it was a sure thing. And then, when the questions stopped having a right answer, I short-circuited.
Now, when I have something to contribute, I sit there burning; mind racing as I think and rethink how to package it just perfectly so that it definitely adds value and doesn’t just scratch the itch I have to deliver it. So very often, time has run out on me before I make my move. Even when it doesn’t, especially in today’s digital world, there is a high probability that I will retract it, if it isn’t well enough received. Don’t need to be cluttering up anyone’s day with my pointless offerings.
I know fucking fine well how ridiculous this is. I’ve known for a long fucking time. But it is damn hard to shift. I have been inching my Fear Boulder to the edge of the cliff for fucking years now. But when it finally goes over, man, just fucking watch me…