Cautious. Precise. Particular. Nice. Complex. Intelligent. Predictable. Spiritual. Well put together.
These are the words that I have heard used to describe the person that I am. And though flattering to some extent and worrisome in another, there has always been only one word I used for my self-description: fearful. No matter the category, no matter the area of my life, no matter the decision being made, it is almost certain that I led with fear.
Well, for me, fear was a defense mechanism. It kept me safe. It allowed to get close while still staying just far enough away. What it really did was kept me closed-off; it kept me at arm’s length of everything and everybody that I encountered. It kept me frigid and walled-in. It kept me, in a sense, unapproachable: emotionally, mentally, physically.
But, if you knew me, deeply or just on the surface, I seemed pretty well put together, pretty adjusted, pretty on my game, pretty well-rounded. In actuality, I was completely submerged in fear.
Fear is defined as “an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.”
By definition, I was the literal form of fear.
I was dangerous, mentally. I was likely to cause pain, emotionally. And I was threat on both realms. I always intended for my intentions to be good and pure, but once that overpowering fear took control, the outcome was always the opposite.
Fear made me weak. And weak was not a trait that I wanted to openly possess. So I masked it with stoicism. I was always very self-controlled, mild-mannered, and if there was anything going on with me negatively, good luck getting me to show it or express it. I was a suppressor. On the outside, I was all of these things that people described me as being: controlled, independent, self-actualized, put together. That was how I wanted to be seen. Because the inside of me, was anything but. My name became very true to itself. I was a sham.
I began to notice cycles in my life, a lot of repeat patterns. I began to go back and analyze and dissect situations and relationships and friendships and thought patterns and moods and physical habits and daily routines. What I found was that I could literally set a watch by most of my actions. In any situation, the timeframe for actions or reactions were almost identical. I wasn’t living. I was operating on an autopilot that my subconscious had constructed over years of habitual behavior. I was a shell, automatically and without thought controlled by fear.
Writing is my God-given gift, but I was afraid people will criticize it. I want to love freely, but I was afraid someone wouldn’t love me back. I want to surf the ocean, but I was afraid of the water. I want to fly and travel, but I was afraid of the sky. I want to offer anything and everything that I have, but I was afraid of rejection. Afraid. Afraid. Afraid.
There is a reason why most of what I have written here is in past tense. I have spent 20+ years drowning in my own life. I have spent 20+ years completely submerged in patterns of negativity. Now, I am choosing to pull myself to the surface. I am replacing fear with faith, total and complete trust and confidence in myself to do the things that I know I am capable of doing and to possess the behaviors that I know I can readily possess.
The tasks, the decisions, the mountains in front of me were never what scared me. It was the mentality that I had built for myself that did: I wasn’t good enough, I wasn’t strong enough, I didn’t want to fail. Those were the catalysts. Taking the risk was the fear.
Yesterday, I conquered a personal feat: heights. I hiked down a canyon and free climbed my way back to the top. For me, that was huge, because my fear of heights have kept me from so many things: roller coasters, planes, ferris wheels, ladders (seriously, it was that bad)! The liberation that I felt was addicting and I can’t wait to feel that feeling again.
If you are submerged in fear, my advice to you would be to pull yourself to the surface. It is so much easier to breathe up here.