Fear. It’s unsettling. It can motivate, paralyze, stall, incubate, perpetuate, magnify, distract. It’s often in the driver’s seat or our psyche wondering which risk to steer us away from next. It keeps us from living. Keeps us from engaging. Keeps us from pursuing questions. Keeps us from feeling. Keeps us from living into our potential. Fear of injury. Fear of failure. Fear of hurt. Fear of rejection. Fear of love. Fear of vulnerability. Fear of loss. Fear of hope. Fear of joy. Fear of isolation. Fear of community. Fear of letting go. Fear of different answers. Fear of learning. Fear of control. Fear of confidence. Fear of risk.
We’re down to this singular lifetime, to the years that are ahead. For some of us there are several decades to come, for others it’s far shorter. I look back over my 36 years and see many seasons stalled in fear. Just sitting there, underutilized. Although each moment contributes to where I am now, many did not serve to propel me toward positive change.
Where am I going? Who am I becoming? My fear plays a huge part in that journey. Fear will exist no matter what we do. How we respond to it and how big that fear is depends on how we look at it. Am I afraid to risk my security to find work that draws out the best of me? Would I rather stay safe and predictable now when I’m relatively young and able so that I can take all kinds of risks and pursue adventures when I’m old and less agile. How does that sit with you? Something about that thought is unsettling to me.
If we’re like so many we’ll think, “Oh, when I retire I’ll travel, volunteer, build something, but for now I’ll just stare at a computer screen for 8-10 hours a day and put together fancy reports and work my way up.” I’ve worked in large corporate/cubicle environments. Those jobs had their time and served their purpose. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes we have to do that to provide, to get out of debt, to reach a goal. I’m not meaning to be an idealist about it, but I’m concerned for myself and for others that if we wait then that aged travel will end up being to Sarasota Florida, or on a stuff your face consumer cruise through the Mediterranean where you’ll take from tourist sites, but give and engage little. If we wait too long we forget. And forgetting is easy. I fall into it far too often. I forget what moves me. I forget what challenges me. I forget what changes me. And that’s not my ambition. No, my ambition is to live now, to engage, to dive in, to experience the world I’m in. And I’m really bad at it, especially when I’m living in fear. Fear of the unpredictable. Fear of loss of control. Fear of getting outside of my element.
How do your fears limit you from unsettling experiences that lead to discovering possibilities?