The latest epidemic: Why we must stop living afraid

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We live in fear.  We die in fear.

Why are we so afraid?  Why do we hesitate? When it comes to living, shouldn’t we be feeling more alive than dead?  How do I know what living afraid looks like?  Because that was me.  For a long time.  I just didn’t know it.  And it was only once I pulled myself out of that fog did I begin to see how things could be different.  And how much I wanted them to be different.

You see, I was the “careful, cautious girl.” No, seriously.  If there was a face and a name you could assign, it would have been me.  Like a dog we had growing up, I was afraid of my own shadow.  Lurking behind every opportunity, I was sure to find doom.  Part of my hesitation in looking for chances was that I gave myself no chances to come by.  Everything had one shot and if it turned out poorly, then I was done.  The list of things I have done once is pretty lengthy and because the outcome always seemed to be less than desired, I learned not to try new things.  There was no adventure or fun in it.  It made me afraid to try anything.  So I didn’t.

And then one day, I came across a book that changed everything — “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway” by Dr. Susan Jeffers was the catalyst to acknowledging my fears but giving me permission to continue.  It was perfectly normal for me to be apprehensive and cautious.  I needed to accept that what I was feeling didn’t come with shame or ridicule. And because it took me many years to find this book, I hid in the meantime.

But that wasn’t enough.

living in fear

Reading about something that I already knew didn’t push me past the edge of no return.  In fact, it made me just understand better.  That’s all.  But little by little, I began to branch out and let my anxiety of things going wrong (as they had so many times in the past) fade away.  Recognizing that look is not difficult — I know it all too well.

And I saw it again last night as I visited with a young lady last night.  When I asked her if she was excited about her future, I could sense a bit of hesitation and timidness in her voice, as she looked away.  And this is coming from someone who on the outside shows nothing but confidence, energy, and pizzazz.  And as I tried to convince her of the adventure that lay before her,  I saw a glimpse of worry come through her eyes as we quickly changed the subject and we moved onto another topic of conversation.

But I know she is not alone.  No, she is one of many.  The ones that hide behind the tremble of shaking voices, the desperate stutter of words trying to be spoken, and the actions taken too late.  Faking their way through every day life, hoping no one catches on, and pretending it isn’t them.  No one ever wants to be that vulnerable — to let people see who they are.  That they are afraid.

Fear breeds more fear.

What happens when panic sets in, regardless of whether it is founded or not?  It begets more panic.  Living in fear has become and epidemic in our society and it needs to cured.  It carries over from one generation from another and infects itself into anyone that will let it.  Without warning or symptoms, it burrows deep where no one can find it and very rarely shows itself.  However, in today’s world, we are surrounded by reports of Measles happening at Disneyland, as we try to vaccinate those patients that are sick.

Johnny Depp panics

Think about how our society would look like now if the people who changed it dramatically were too afraid to enhance our lives?  People like Martin Luther King, Jr….Billie Jean King…Jesse Owens…Bill Gates…Walt Disney…Florence Nightengale.  Where would be without the creation of the plane?  How would we think about what is impossible if we never learned how to use a computer?  If we live in fear, we never progress.   The only cure is to NOT be afraid.  When we make an active choice to be in every moment without hesitation or reluctance.  But to embrace whatever comes, no matter what that looks like.

“Knowledge is the enemy of fear.” – Unknown

The unknown is what makes it scary, but what if we kept at it and eventually it became less scary.  The more we learn, the more we try, the more we succeed.  That is why it took me so long to get it.  I gave up after one try and never gave myself permission to try again.  Until now.  Why does this matter to us?  What would we want for our children and the generations to come?  Would we want them to be indecisive in living or would we want them to be “careful and cautious?” We are doing ourselves and those around us a horrible disservice if we allow our fears to dictate how we live.

Living in fear is not an option.  It is an excuse.  And it is one that we have accepted for far too long.  For it is not truly living.  And you know it.  Let’s cure this sickness of despair, feel alive, and make something of ourselves while we have the chance.  Whether we know it or not, we are examples to everyone we meet  — we can worry about life’s uncertainties or we can love them for the surprises they bring.

Our lives will take a 180 degree turn if we just turn that fear into excitement.  It takes the same amount of energy and changes just because of the way we think.  Our outlook becomes clearer…we feel more relaxed…we become our BEST selves.  We follow our hearts instead of hide from them.  We listen to the voice of our dreams and cling to growth for hope.  We allow our inner compass to guide us as it fills us with promise.  

Our chances will come and they will test us.  We can be afraid of them and do nothing remarkable or we can grab hold of them and let them take us places we never thought we would go.  We don’t have to know all the answers…but we DO have to believe in them.  It is how we replace fear with peace.

– Michelle A. Homme 2015 ©



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