I’ve never thought of myself as a fearful person. Often my fear surprises me like an uninvited relative during the holidays, overnight bag in tow with a rumbling stomach. Even though fear is a part of human nature and as common as a housefly, it stills amazes me how many of us let it control our decisions. Especially my own. Of course, there are different levels of fear. Simple ones of mine like crickets (their unrequited love for me puts Mulan to shame) and darkness (both literal and figurative) aren’t enough to cause disruption in my life. However, larger fears that run as deep as memory are harder to harness.
As a young girl, my best friend and I spent most of our afternoons playing imaginary games. We had gaming consoles and enough toys to make a department store jealous, but we preferred the games our minds came up with instead. Daily rounds of “Hook” occurred where we had to fight our way through a pirate ship (a.k.a. a collection of trees and swing sets) before dinnertime, using my backyard as our high seas. There were also the various times where we pretended to be famous, sometimes with or without accents that only a child could get away with without offending, but always on the precipice of some large life-altering scandal we conjured up. No matter what we played, a sense of the fantastic always lingered. We were larger than life and played with the concept of fear like other children played with their toys.
This past week, I’ve finally taken care of a personal matter I’ve held close for years due to my fear of rejection. It’s funny how being told “no” can roll off others backs, but makes me feel as if I’m standing down an oncoming train with broken brakes. I’ve permitted worry to weave scenarios of the outcome regarding this situation, some of them so vivid it was hard to believe any other option was available. Even with the good news turning in my favor, I still find myself skeptical because of the years I spent convincing myself otherwise. This roadblock I’ve been keeping in my path is finally free and now I’m able to evaluate what I want to do with my life, an open road beckoning me like the end of some coming-of-age film. And yet, I’m still afraid.
I should mention I also have a strong fear of failure and, more ironically, of success. I often joke about being a walking contradiction and this part of my life also matches that balancing act of scales I often find myself holding (and yes, for the record, I’m a Libra). For some people, life is a game where the stakes are as simple as winning or losing. Well, as much I love Life – the board game of course- I don’t see my existence as competitive as that. Yes, I’m more of a journey than a destination person, and maybe my glass ranges from half-full to half-empty depending on the circumstances, but I wonder if my lack of drive is just an excuse to not try. To not have to be responsible if something goes wrong. I wonder if I crave mediocrity despite my loud protests otherwise, because at least hiding among the commons no one has any expectations of me. There’s no chance of success or of failure.
Truly, I don’t want that though. There’s a yearning desire to be extraordinary that claws from my heart out to my bloodstream, filling every part of me. There’s that girl inside that consistently hides out in the open, craving to be noticed and found. The one who’s told she is smart and special and can do anything she puts her heart to. And yes, it has to be her heart, because her mind is an untrustworthy thing, full of self-shaming lies she convinces herself are true.
No matter how old I get or how open the roads stay, I need to remember that girl that played with fear and conquered it daily like she did in her imaginary games. My best friend and I always ended up the victors in the lives we acted out and remembering that fact is more prominent now that I have a chance to be victorious in my real life. The chance to decide what I really want to accomplish with the time I’m given here. I’ve allowed imaginary versions of my failed future impede me from simply living my life for far too long.
Facing fear is a daily choice. It’s something I’m aware of constantly, but I’m not going to let fear be my roadblock any longer. I’m going to climb that pirate ship and sail to the ends of the Earth, my fears strapped on like weapons.