Yesterday I had an unofficial theme running throughout the course of my day. I read an article written by Alicia Keys describing her emotions on her upcoming marathon in New York and she wrote: “I feel like if I admit to having any fears, I'm accepting them in some way, or maybe even inviting fear into my life. I'm not sure if that technique is working for or against me (the jury is still out), but I know that it's my current philosophy.” I reflected on her words and realized that although I don’t treat fear the same way she does, I have learned to deal with it in a much healthier way.
As a little Jeanette, I prided myself on being a good student. I would always do my homework right when I got home, do extra credit even when I didn’t have to and was the first to raise my hand to volunteer to help the teacher. I was that girl. But the flip side was when I didn’t know the answer or wasn’t prepared, I felt enormous shame. My biggest fear was not being the best version of myself. This led me to not trying out for things like chorus, cheerleading, etc. because if I didn’t think I could be really good at it, then why even try. Of course at the time I didn’t make this connection but as I’ve gotten older and started to notice my patterns, I’ve realized that I have some sort of a perfection complex.
Last night, I went to hear the author, Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love) speak about her new book Big Magic- Creative Living Beyond Fear. She told a story about how she was an extremely fearful child and with the help of her mother, she was able to navigate through her fear to at least function through those difficult years. And then one day she became bored with her fear because it was the same thing every day. The word ‘No” was a part of her constant vocabulary and she decided that she wasn’t going to continue to live her life that way.
In one day, I got two totally different perspectives about fear from two incredibly inspiring women. On the one hand, Alicia completely pushes fear out of her psyche and doesn’t allow it to control her in any way. She doesn’t even acknowledge that it exists. On the other hand, Elizabeth mentioned that she lives with her fear every day with every project and even invites it along on her journey or ‘road trip’ but it can only be a spectator, it cannot drive (or “touch the snacks”). I think I pull a little from both of these theories.
This year has been for me a year of working through my fears and doing what I’ve wanted to do anyway, regardless of things being perfect. When my husband and I created our podcast, I was fearful about what people would think. Being that we’re vegan and some of our topics are controversial, I was afraid that people would put us in a box and not give us a chance. I thought I didn’t know enough on certain topics and therefore didn’t deserve to have a platform. The fears were endless but at the end of the day, my desire to do something positive and bring awareness mattered more to me than anything else.
I’ve learned that the opposite of fear is love and when I’ve come to any situation with a pure heart, regardless of the outcome, I no longer feel the fear of not being good enough. And from what I’ve experienced so far, love begets love. The podcast has been one of the best things I’ve ever done in my life and I’m so glad that I didn’t let fear control me.
Per the request of Elizabeth Gilbert, we ended the night singing ‘Take me home, country roads’ at the top of our lungs because why not? I invite you today to think about how you treat fear and if you’ve developed an unhealthy relationship with it, see what approach you can borrow from either of these amazing women. Or if you have a totally healthy relationship with fear, share some of your coolness in the comment section below.