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The Emptiness of Fear

When I was little, I’d often find myself staring at the darkened ceiling unable to fall asleep because I was afraid.

Imaginary scenarios would swirl around in my mind on repeat with each one getting scarier and scarier than the last. There was the time I thought my house was going to catch on fire, the time I was convinced a murderer was going to shoot me through my bedroom window, and that one night I thought someone had probably planted a bomb in our basement for no specific reason.

Younger me was scared of so many irrational things.

Thankfully, older me is not scared of those things anymore.

Instead, I’m scared of the following semi-irrational things:

  • Is there enough money in my bank account?​

  • Do people really like me?

  • Am I going to die of cancer?

  • Is that ache in my back serious?

  • What in the world is my five-year plan?

These, among other things, are the thoughts that swirl around in my mind as I try to fall asleep at night.

There’s a song by Ben Howard that says, “I’ve been worrying that we all live our lives in the confines of fear.”

That line resonates with me. Too often, I live my life in response to my fears. If something scares me, I won’t do it. I’ll even go out of my way to avoid it at all costs. I’m pretty sure this is why it takes me 20 minutes to find a parking space downtown because parallel parking is probably number two on my “What Scares Jake the Most” list. The first being stuck in a conversation about sports, just in case you were wondering.

Living in fear empties you of the joys of life. I don't want to miss out on life experiences simply because I'm too afraid to do things I'm uncomfortable with. I'm tired of the friendships I don't have because I am too scared to meet new people. I don't want to look back on my life and regret that I didn't take more risks because I am scared of failure. That is no way to live.

Mark Twain is quoted as saying, “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.”

The only way of getting over my fears, sadly, is to embrace them. To do the very things that terrify me.

So next time I’m going downtown to grab a coffee, I need to just suck it up and parallel park in the spot closest to the coffee shop. (but even at the thought of that I’m cringing. What if I bump into the car behind me.... that will cost so much money……sigh.)

Fear is something I'll always struggle with, but hopefully it's not something I will always be crippled by.

Share below how you conquered fear in your own life?

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