Facing Fear

Facing Fear

This is part three of the Perpetual State of Suck series. Part one talked about the internal factors, while part two focused on the external. This essay focuses on fear. I encourage you to read the proceeding articles if you have not done so.

If fear was not a factor what would your life look like? What would you be doing? Who would you be? In order to become beast we need to win in the face of fear.

One night I went out with my friend Sarah. Sarah did not drive so I picked her up. She had begun taking driving lessons but was still intimidated when it came to being behind the wheel. At the end of the night I offered to let her drive home and she flat out refused. I could sense there was something deeper and asked again. Again she said no. I told her that she needed to get over her fear but my plea fell on deaf ears. After I got tired of the back and forth, I pulled over to the side of the road, got out the car, went around to the passenger side, opened the door and told Sarah, “slide over cause you are driving home!” Sarah would not budge. I would not budge. We were at a standoff. It was a battle of will. Sarah just kept saying she can’t while I kept saying she can. A decision needed to be made. After a few minutes of this stalemate Sarah started to cry. “What the hell is wrong with me?” she uttered to herself. For a moment she paused as if she was waiting for an answer as she wiped away her tears. Fear was face to face with her. This was her moment to show how strong I knew she was. Alas, fear was the victor that night. Paralyzed to move fear had crippled her. I drove home. Sarah cried. A quiet street on a quiet night Sarah had been defeated.

How many of us have felt like Sarah succumbing to our fears? I know I have. We all have.

Fear begins to become a habit. We automatically get used to not doing the things that makes us afraid. It starts to affect other areas of our lives. We become a slave to it, and it becomes our master.

This is not the first or last time fear would be the victor in Sarah’s life. Fear had raised its hand in triumph on many occasions until Sarah would not let fear dictate her life. She would be in the driver seat.

For many years Sarah wanted to be a doctor. She envisioned herself in the E.R. dressed in a lab coat saving someone’s life. She wanted her life to have meaning. She would tell me all the time about her dream. However her actions went in the completely opposite direction. She found herself stuck working for a horrible boss in a dead end position. How was she going to save lives while stuck in a cubicle? Fear was controlling her life. She saw it as just a dream. Sarah thought she was not good enough, smart enough, or young enough to pursue a medical degree. Fear was whispering in her ear.

But one day something changed. Sarah was sick and tired of her boss, sick and tired of her life and, sick and tired of being sick and tired. Sarah had enough. She registered for the MCATs and applied to medical school. Currently she is finishing her medical degree. Not only is Sarah in medical school but she is also at the head of her class. She does not let fear hold her back anymore. Sarah is in the process of living out her dream. In fact, Sarah has become one of the most courageous people I have ever met. Someone who once was the embodiment of fear has become the personification of courage. Being fed up is a good thing. Being fed up can conquer fear.

The ability to act in spite of fear requires a bigger why. Meaning the reason we act is because the why is more important than that thing we are afraid of. In retrospect, if I had stopped in the middle of a busy highway as opposed to a quiet street I am pretty sure Sarah would have jumped in the driver’s seat with no hesitations. Fear was able to access the situation and strike its ugly head. In the alternatives fear does not have a chance. Fear is still present in those situations but we just make it less important.

I do not know about you, but I am fed up with being afraid of the boogie man. There are no monsters under our bed. The scratching at our window is just a tree branch. The fear is not real. It may feel real but it is not. The fear may have beaten us into submission on many occasions but today is a new day. Today, we will not let fear dictate our lives. We will not sit in the passenger seat of our lives and let fear drive us home. We are in control. You do not have to be afraid anymore.

Act in spite of fear.

Jay Williams