Fear isn’t a negative

Photo courtesy of the talented Ashton Pal

With our most recent drama there’s been many a conversation of late about courage with, well, just about everyone.  For those that asked me my opinion I would tell them that I think courage isn’t about not feeling afraid, it’s about feeling afraid and doing it anyway.  Fear is just meant to be a safety-check, a dial on your plane’s dashboard.  Take a glance at it, look at what it’s telling you, then fly the friggin’ plane.  When you look at it this way courage is not just for superheroes, it’s also for the little daily acts that move us out of our comfort zone.  And courage is like any muscle, it needs to be exercised with little challenges every day.  Over time you’re ready to do things like scaling a mountain or running for office or moving to Brazil.  Anyone can be courageous in my eyes.  It was while I was mulling this all over that Sarah Von Bargen shared this quote on one of my favorite blogs: Yes and Yes.

I am afraid too. I am frightened all the time, but I do not let the fears determine my behavior. How I act and whether or not I am afraid are two separate things in my process. I think questions such as, is this doable, reasonable, and morally sound? What are the consequences going to be when I do this? I know I will make some people mad but can I actually achieve something positive? If I think I can be effective, I allow myself to feel afraid. The problem is when people act because they are afraid. These two things need to be separated. It is okay to feel uncomfortable. If you are going to create anything worthy, you are going to feel uncomfortable and other people are going to make you feel uncomfortable, and that has to be accepted as part of life. If you want to feel safe all the time, you will never be able to do anything.  Sarah Schulman

Wise, wise words, and ones I try to live by.  If I had let fear determine my behavior, I wouldn’t be here in Brazil.  I wouldn’t be married to my wonderful husband, in fact I probably wouldn’t have even started dating him.  I wouldn’t have survived (and thrived) in my previous career, a job that indubitably was one of the hardest and also best learning & maturing experiences of my life.  I would never have learned to speak in front of a crowd (I’m good at it, who knew?).  I wouldn’t have attended the college that I did (so different, so far from home!) and found piles of life-long friends.  I would have never tried numerous delicious and strange foods.  I would never have climbed mountains alone or leaped into pools of water that definitely were worth the while.  And we are still in the middle of creating a new life from scratch here so it would be fair to admit that I’m scared in some way large or small every.damn.day.  “If you want to feel safe all the time you will never be able to do anything.”  So true. Where has overcoming/ignoring fear taken you?


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