In today’s society, we idolize fearlessness. It’s seen as a positive trait, something that we should all aspire to be; the ultimate sign of strength.

When you think about what exactly being fearless means, it takes on a whole different meaning.

Courage is not the absence of fear. By definition, courage is persevering in the face of fear.

My whole life I’ve been telling myself, “don’t be afraid.” I’ve told myself that I’m not allowed to be scared. Somehow we’ve created the belief that being afraid equates to weakness. The truth is, everyone is afraid of something: tight spaces, spiders, darkness, failure, death. Sure some are more afraid than others, but we all have something that scares us.

So why do we tell ourselves, “don’t be afraid”? That’s like saying to ourselves, “don’t move out of the way of a car that’s coming full speed towards you” or “don’t flinch at the heat of a fire” or “don’t blink.” We might as well say to ourselves, “don’t be human.”

Fear is what keeps us alive. I’m afraid and you’re afraid and we’re all always going to be afraid because that’s the point. If we didn’t have anything to lose, we would have nothing to gain. And what kind of life would that be?

So instead of convincing ourselves to be fearless, we should be telling ourselves, “be afraid, but do it anyway.” Failing to acknowledge our fears can be almost as detrimental as not having fears at all. I have fears but I choose not to allow those fears to hold me back. Instead of fearlessness, we should encourage perseverance, bravery, courage and strength. We need to tell ourselves and others that it’s OK to be afraid, but to do it anyway.

Do it anyway.

Live anyway.

Acknowledging fears and choosing to live anyway will always be more courageous than pretending to not have any fears, which is humanly impossible.