My life has been in such flux recently. This flux has affected my external experience (housing, relationships, work), but also my internal experience (thoughts, beliefs, values, motivation).

 

Honestly, it feels like there has been a monumental shift in the core of my being. I’d call it a growth spurt of the soul.

 

And as this shift happens, I’m feeling a huge impetus to expand. To shed. To learn. To engage. To grow. To act. To become.

 

It’s incredible.

 

I imagine the future and I can imagine my own success. I see what would make me feel stable and secure and fulfilled. And beyond that, I can see the actionable steps I need to take now in order to get to that ideal future.

 

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Me getting my first freelancing job and realizing I could really do something with this.

 

But why haven’t I done all this transitional work sooner? 

 

Well, that answer is a complex one. A great deal of it involves financial security, lack of experience keeping me short-sighted, and mental illness.

 

But another enormous component of what has kept me stuck is just plain old simple fear. Not even the kind that fuels my anxiety disorder (though I’m sure it doesn’t help any).

 

It’s the kind that is stuck at the center of my being, keeping me small and comfortable in misery and inertia.

 

The kind that makes me believe This is as good as it’ll get; this is all you’re capable of.

 

As I’ve been moving through this period of change, I can feel myself bursting through these fears one by one. It’s really empowering, but I know there will come a time when the fears come back to play and try to build in a nest in my self-doubt.

 

 

I won’t let them build that nest. No thanks.

 

But I will embrace them with all the love and acceptance I can muster. 

 

Below is a list of 5 fears that I vow to no longer let “control” me and/or “prevent” me from building a life and career for myself that feels supportive, enriching, and engaging. I want to give them space to breathe, to be read and acknowledged. So here they are:

 

 

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Spooky. Like fears.

1) Fear of Rejection

I will get turned down. I won’t be qualified. Or I will be, but someone else may swoop in with more experience, a better personality fit. And people will say “Nope! This isn’t for you.” People will ignore me, people will avoid me, and people will not want to spend time with me. This fear is one that I don’t often struggle with career-wise, but interpersonally it has been known to wreak serious havoc on me.

 

2) Fear of Criticism

People won’t like me. They’ll equate my weight to my worth and write me off as out of control and lazy. My writing will read like trash to someone. My colloquialisms will make people grate their teeth in annoyance. My use of dashes will make people roll their eyes. My spirituality will make people scoff and assume I am incapable of rational thought. People will think my ideas are complete, utter crap and doubt my intelligence. This fear has kept me from writing for a long, long, long time.

 

3) Fear of Failure

I will miss deadlines. I will fall short of my promises to the people I care about. I won’t live up to my expectations. I didn’t go to Yale or Harvard or Williams. I didn’t want to go to Yale or Harvard or Williams. No one ever told me I needed to go to Yale or Harvard or Williams. And yet there is still a screaming baby inside of me that says:
“Well you didn’t go to a prestigious enough place for undergrad you Nerd Failure so you had better get your act together to get into somewhere REALLY IMPORTANT for grad school and then become a world famous professor you Nerd Failure ha ha your aspirations are fake you lose”

 

4) Fear of Leaving People Behind

This is a doozy. You ever hit a growing edge and you know you’re on the verge of blossoming–but you also know that in order to bloom you’ll inadvertently hurt other people when you cut ties with them after you realize that neither of you are supporting each other in the ways you need? I sure have. This happens to me weirdly often (something to reflect on therapy eh?). And it never fails to leave me feeling afraid to revel in my Potential and/or Success, because then I return to “Fear of Criticism” —-> I fear I’ll be called selfish or utilitarian or x or y or z or ksfkewfejaflkajgkljeioajfiel (????) while I’m off frolicking in the wilderness reading Pema Chodron and making extra money doing reiki, and they’re stuck at home calling me a fraud and a con and a liar (wow).

 

5) Fear of the Unknown

I could die tomorrow. And who knows what things look like after that? More unknown. This fear more than any of the others built a cognitive process that fertilized my anxiety into becoming a state-of-the-art, oft-debilitating mental illness. How dysregulated Sagittarius of me, to fear lack of knowledge rather than to embrace the pursuit of it. But really. I have no idea if I’ll even like the things I’m trying to pursue. I don’t know if I’ll get rejected or if I’ll get criticized or if I’ll fail or if I’ll get left behind–and so I brace myself for impact. I fear the fear of the fear of the fear of the fear.

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Exploring shadow, just like I’m trying to do right now.

 

These are My Big Five, the fears I keep running up against as I try to embrace this changing ebb and flow.

 

So back to all of the talk of embracing these fears.

 

What do I mean by that? 

 

I mean it like this. Here’s an anecdote.

 


I just got dental insurance for the first time in 4 years. Yay! But that also means I haven’t had a check up or a cleaning in 4 years. Boo. So, understandably, a cavity had formed on one of my teeth.

 

I made an appointment for a filling, no big deal, I’ve had them before. I didn’t think about it.

 

The day comes. I sit in the chair. They say they’re going to give me Novocaine.

 

What?

 

I can’t get the whole left side of my mouth numbed. I have to go back to work! I need to eat lunch! What the hell!

 

So I tell them I’ll get the filling without numbing. And I do.

 

And it hurts.

 

It’s ok at first, and then their tools hit a nerve, and it hurts. I yelp, I squeeze my eyes shut, and they tell me it’s almost done.

 

It still hurts.

 

But I keep going, because I know it’ll be over soon–and there’s clean teeth on the other side.

 


 

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If we domesticated small lions and made them into our companions, we humans can embrace our own dang fears.
In my view, embracing fear is just like this story.

 

Fear hurts. Fear is disabling. It makes us freeze or flee or fight (or fawn). It keeps us stuck and disempowered and unable to think or act or change.

 

I’m not saying ignore fear completely and keep moving.

 

I’m saying live alongside it. Sit with it. Feel it. Acknowledge it. And then keep going.

 

Wrap one arm around fear and another around trust–that anguish is not always and forever intense and unrelenting–huddle up together for a moment, and then march forth.

 

That’s where I am.

 

I’m not living with fear wrapped around my neck, but I’m not living with fear trailing behind me, waiting for me to get tired so it can put me back in its choke-hold. Not anymore.

 

Here’s to a life of transformation, of learning, and of action.

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