You can feel your insides freezing, your choices waning. You lose your ability to articulate with logic; quietly you descend into irrationality. Swept up by the current of adrenaline coursing your veins, you might choose to run. It rushes you to someplace safer, someplace calm. In the wake of being displaced, you might feel a gut turning regret, or you might feel nothing. Being scared is paralyzing. Being afraid is soul crushing. Would you believe me if I said fear was a choice?
Imagine fear is a paralytic; you’re injected and it rushes to your extremities quickly, pooling in your spinal column. You cannot move, you can only watch your surroundings. The view isn’t good. Fear sings you a lullaby, thoughtfully trying to calm you down and back away from the cliff you were dwelling by. Fear touches your cheek, a caress so intimate you might think this sweet drug is where safety lies. You don’t remember that you’re paralyzed, for fear offers you a hand while you walk back down the cliff through the woods. You find solid ground, and you wait for fear to leave you because you’re safe now. Replacing fear’s presence is another: regret.
You might believe fear is an emotion. It surfaces with a massive, tidal wave of exertion and you’re exhausted in its wake. Fear is not an emotion; fear is a choice. Fear is a choice we choose because we cannot see the water below the cliff is deep enough for us to jump. We cannot see that it will welcome us with luscious laps of cool water, taking our temperature down from when it skyrocketed with our fear. Once you're in the water, your heart rate slows again and you can tread water and your stomach will settle. Pride will swell where fear resonated before.
I used to think that fear correlated with actual danger. Fear was your ally, helping you see what wasn't good for you. Now? Now I know that this isn't true. Fear whispers lies to you, trying to coax you away from some things that might actually be good for you. Oh, the things fear says make sense. When I stood on top of a cliff, literally, climbing rocks to find the top and a vantage point where I could see the lake water below me I felt the paralytic start to ice my veins, and I was subsequently froze at the ledge that peered out over the water. I might have climbed with exuberance, happy to face my dislike of dark, deep water by plunging in from some 35 feet above it. I might have enjoyed the smiles and enthusiastic shouts of my friends as they one by one leaped from the cliff and fell for a few seconds into the water below. They must have done it several times before I managed my one and only jump - how could they, and I couldn't? Fear held my hand, requesting my company on the cliff instead of encouraging me to try it. To try to jump, to try to fall.
The fears we don't face become our limits, says Robin Sharma. Had I not given my hand, had I not given instructions of, " Pull me with you. Make me jump," I would have been limited by fear, no matter how sweet fear seemed. Fear makes the instance seem bigger; fear sharpens teeth, lengthens claws, and darkens the night. I don't want to be limited, I want to be limitless. The point isn't to become fearless; the point is to overcome. Overcome your doubts. Overcome your worry. Overcome your fear.
Appreciate your fear, but discount it. It is OK to be scared, know that. But overcoming fear will give you strength. It will give you courage. It will give you bravery. Be valiant, be courageous, be brave. Jump from the cliff, even if someone has to pull you. Fear will limit you, it will hold you in limbo. You won't tread water, you will float in one place and eventually you'll begin to sink.
I want to be the person beyond my fear. Worry takes up the space inside you for courage to bloom, for conviction to blossom. Rumi says, "Why do you stay in prison when the door is so wide open?" Why stay behind bars when you have the courage, the bravery, the insanity inside you? All you need is 20 seconds of insane courage for something great to happen - remember that? Remember how 20 seconds of insane courage yeilded one of the sweetest love stories, We Bought a Zoo? All it took for him to walk up to a beautiful woman and say hello was 20 seconds of insane courage and bravery. When he was afraid of failure, and the beautiful woman didn't reject him, he asked the question, "Why did you talk to me?"
Her answer is all you ever need to remember: why not?
Why not face your fears? Why not? You know, everything you've ever wanted is on the other side of fear, of worry, of being afraid. When you give everything inside of you, you will get the results that are meant for you.
Talk to the girl. Tell the boy you love him. Stand up in front of hundreds of people and present your research. Climb a mountain and revel in the height you conquered. Unabashedly give everything you have; if it scares you, it's worth trying. It's worth conquering.