My heart was racing.
“Should I say something or should I just shut up?”
The meeting was about to end and we had been asked to share any final thoughts on how things had gone that day. I had a thought…well, a series of thoughts. And the more I pondered them, the faster my heart raced.
“What was going on?! Why was I afraid to be honest?”
But the longer the silence continued, the more I afraid I got.
“Was it really worth saying what was on my mind? Or should I just save it for another day?”
And then I remembered those famous words…“go out on a limb; after all, that’s where the fruit is.”
So, I trusted my fear and opened my mouth.
The first words I spoke were “I feel tension”, and they came out with a crack. I felt like I was in puberty again! How embarrassing.
But as I kept talking, I eventually found my voice and my confidence too. I shared the series of thoughts which had been rolling around my head. I even said some things I didn’t even know I was thinking.
I survived the moment and lived to tell about it.
Fear almost stopped me from sharing an important perspective the group needed to hear. I walked away, standing up a little straighter and walking with a little more confidence.
Sadly, as proud as I am of defeating fear that day, I know many other stories about other days where fear kicked my butt, where I let my racing heartbeat and inner voice talk me into staying quiet.
[Tweet “Fear stops us from doing what we were created to do.”]
It holds us back from leading, acting and sharing our best work with the the world.
“I’m afraid of being wrong” stops us from answering a question or suggesting a solution to a problem. The potential of failing intimidates us, removing the potential for success.
“I’m afraid of rejection” prohibits us from being accepted, welcomed or included in a new way. We’re so afraid that someone else might ridicule or reject us we hold back and never experience the kind of affirmation for which we long.
“I’m afraid of being alone” hinders us from finding a sense of community with other people. Overwhelmed by a potential future of loneliness, we cut ourselves off from the path to community and connection.
Down the street from my apartment, a restaurant sign has recently displayed an empowering message. It says…
[Tweet “On the other side of fear lies freedom. “]
The sign reminds me I have to move through my fears and trust that they’re telling me where true freedom lies.
While we were taught that fear shows us where to turn back, this is only true about hot stoves and toxic chemicals.
When it comes to the decisions that define our lives, fear is actually a sign that can lead us to our calling and life’s work.
If you’re battling the fear of being wrong, rejected or alone today, embracing these 3 truths could empower you to discover the freedom that lies on the other side of fear.
1. Failure often teaches us more than success.
We learn more through struggle – sometimes far more – than we do during success. As it turns out, easy things rarely change us. Facing our fears, choosing courage, bouncing back with hope – these challenge us, calling us to more.
I would have never written a blog about a well-executed, unfaltering soliloquy. But a voice-cracking, uncertain fear-inducing confession? You bet I’m mining that experience for all the wisdom it’s worth!
[Tweet “As it turns out, easy things rarely change us. “]
2. No one can love your mask; they can only love the true you.
While none of us want to be rejected for who we are, being accepted for who you’re not isn’t exactly a gift we want to take home either.
I have far too much experience faking it, having spent long periods in life where I wore masks to gain acceptance.
Being everyone but yourself is an exhausting way to live.
Choosing to be your true self may result in some people rejecting you. However, others will finally be able to experience you – the real you – and love you for who you truly are.
3. Your courage will inspire other people who are afraid.
By the time the meeting ended, my heart still hadn’t calmed down but I could talk more like a 30 year-old than a 13 year-old again. Throughout that day, multiple people came up to me to say, “I was thinking the same thing” or “I was afraid of saying something but fear got the best of me.”
Every time I’ve done something that totally freaked me out, I’ve found other people who I had no idea were freaked out too.
They were waiting for someone else to go first. Once the ice was broken, they were able to take the same leap.
Who knows? Maybe your voice won’t crack like mine and maybe you won’t get affirmation within minutes of defying your fear. But I believe you have a moment, an opportunity, a space in your life where you’re battling fear. And I want to remind you…
[Tweet “Our fear does not define us; it is what we do with our fear which shapes our future.”]
On the other side of fear lies freedom.