“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”
-Franklin D. Roosevelt
How many times have we heard cliche quotes such as the one above and just brushed them aside? Honestly, I don’t really brush these quotes aside, I relish in the rush of inspiration they provide me for the ten seconds I read them, and then I move on. We know these tidbits of advice make so much sense as we post them to our social media, but do we ever take a moment to really analyze how we may fit them into our life? or how we can go about really integrating their meanings to help better ourselves? No, not really. That’s hard for me to admit, as I am a self proclaimed quote junkie. I have been thinking about this particular subject of fear a lot over the past couple months, and quotes such as this keep bouncing through my mind, as I try to figure out how to really believe them and understand their true meaning.
“Fear; the feeling or condition of being afraid”
How often do we say we are afraid? Or scared?
“I’m afraid to take this test today because I didn’t study enough.”
“I’m scared that there may be a ticket on my car.”
“I’m afraid I’m going to get sick soon.”
We feel fear on an almost regular basis. But what about when fear in general is deeply ingrained inside us? When there aren’t just specific instances that make us scared, when this fear is the foundation of all of our thoughts.
It took me a long time to figure out what the main thing was that was holding me back in all areas of my life. Holding me back from chasing my goals head on, holding me back from being as excited as I usually was and believing in myself. After analyzing myself (like we all know I constantly do) for a couple weeks about this funk I had been feeling, I really was able to put my finger on what the basic underlying factor was that was contributing to every issue I felt. Fear. I had fearful thoughts about everything. And I let this fear continue to build upon itself, and was left with a very difficult issue to fix. I had let my thinking be completely taken over to the point that I wasn’t quite sure I would be able to get myself out of it. And honestly, I’m still not completely sure sometimes. But I think life is about admitting what our downfalls are, and facing them head on instead of avoiding it. So here we are. My name is Carolyn, and I have been paralyzed by fear. (is there a support group for this? Typing this I can hear in my head voices replying “Hi Carolyn”)
Admitting the things we struggle with is hard, especially as publicly as this. As a society we love to have this perfect image of our life to show others. (we can thank instagram for that. And no, I’m not calling anyone out. I love to edit my feed look to look as though I live this totally put together and exciting lifestyle too. Who doesn’t love the beautiful instagram photo of Starbucks coffee or a perfectly put together outfit?) Being the perfectionist that I am, I like to come off as though I have everything all together all the time. (My boyfriend teases me because one of my favorite things to say is “I just need to get it together”) I love looking like I can absolutely do everything and can handle everything that comes my way in life. But that just isn’t real. Honestly, just writing about this is already making me feel like a weight is being lifted off my shoulders. I am not perfect, and I know I am not alone in that.
I think I have let this fear slowly really become a part of me over the last couple years. Being a young 20-something is a time of many changes, changes that most of us are not at all prepared for, and therefore the worrying begins as we feel overwhelmed and alone in figuring the real world out.
My fearful thinking started with life events that would be normal to instill fear in anyone. My father was very ill and passed, “Ok, health is really important. And so is appreciating the time we have here, because we may not have it for long.” I entered a new relationship, “Ok, what if this doesn’t work like previous relationships?” I began to think about my senior year of college, “I don’t know what I’m going to do after college. I’m going to be unemployed and broke” I spent so much time listening to horror stories of student loan debt, and struggles of moving out of home at this young age. The fear from constantly being involved in this negative thinking then began to spread into every aspect of my life, so much that it just led me to avoid things I even enjoyed. “Why are you going to workout today? You know you wont keep at it.” “What if you don’t have anyone to talk to when you go out tonight?”
This negative thinking was all fueled by fear of life. Fear of not achieving my goals. Fear of failure.
I started this blog earlier this summer, and actually started this blog post a month ago, but kept avoiding finishing it. “Your writing isn’t good enough. Your blog won’t ever be where you want it”
Being someone who loves to come off as positive and as though she can handle doing a lot, this thinking became really hard for me to deal with. What had happened to this confident young woman I knew I was becoming? I wanted her back and was incredibly disappointed in myself for this set back. So I just began to ignore that I was being this negative. I didn’t admit that my brain was stuck in this constant doubt and fighting against itself. I just avoided anything that would make me think like this, because I was so ashamed at how I had let myself get trapped in this mindset.
Being unsure about life and what we are doing is normal. Being scared of new things is normal. But when we begin to hide from the life that we are so lucky to have, that is when fear is a problem. When we hide from everyday issues, instead of face them head on, that is when fear is absolutely debilitating. And this is for anyone else who has ever felt this way, as I’m sure many others do as we all go through consistent changes in our lives. You are not alone in this. But you can’t let yourself just keep sinking. It is truly like putting yourself in a hole as you just keep digging it deeper and deeper with no hope of ever getting out. And this is something I now realize, and vow to face it head on.
My blog may never be as good as others, I may never be in the absolute perfect shape I want to, I may not figure out where my career is going for many years. But I am no longer going to sit back and let my fear block me from living my life and working to achieve my goals. I will never get anywhere that way. None of us will ever get anywhere with thinking that way. I won’t be perfect in never having fearful thoughts, but I will continue to admit when I do, and then face it head on. I refuse to not blog because it may not be good enough. So heres to many blog posts that may not be good enough, and to days of working towards goals that I’m unsure of when I will reach. Here is to trying at this life and letting that effort to try come before my fearful thoughts. And over time, I know that this fearful thinking will no longer be so prevalent in my mind as I look towards my future with a sense of hope instead of fear.
This day forward, I vow to let my true self back in charge, and to stop letting fear rule my life.
I hope you will do the same.