Fear

People always ask me how it is I’ve travelled so much, how I seem willing to risk everything to chase my dreams, my heart, my passion. And although I must admit I am a weird specimen, as I genuinely dislike comfort, routine and stability, I know that even if you’re a creature of habit, you can make your dreams come true. We all have different dreams and they don’t all involve travelling the world and sleeping in hammocks on tropical beaches, but hey, even if you like having a 9-5 job, you can lead the life you crave: you can get what you yearn for. (Of course, you have to yearn for something first!)

And because I’ve been brought up to think and behave this way, and as I get older I become more stubborn in my search for joy and pleasure, it confuses me when people say things like, “I wish I could do that,” or, “I’ve been wanting to do this for so long but I just can’t.” That’s when I cock my head sideways, scrunch up my eyebrows, purse my lips in a knot, and ask, “Why not? Why don’t you?” And what does everyone say? “I don’t have the money,” or, “I don’t have the time,” or, worse, “I’m too scared.” Scared to follow your dreams? That is an unacceptable excuse, if you ask me: being scared is the first step to realising that what you want is worth it.

But don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I don’t feel fear, or like I don’t struggle with money and time. Of course I do; we all have days when we wish we could be anywhere but where we are but can’t seem to find the way out. The key, I believe, to changing that feeling of helplessness and that desire to run, is looking at what stops you from doing what you want as an obstacle rather than an excuse. Because excuses are our own creations, and we only use them when we’re tying to get out of doing something we don’t want to do. So if we’re making excuses for our dreams, it either means our dreams aren’t worth our time, or we’re allowing fear to be stronger than our desires. The thing most people don’t see is, if you’ve made yourself a life you don’t like, you’re just as capable of building one you love. So why settle for anything less than the life you dream of? The only other choice, in my opinion, is to die trying.

And obstacles (not excuses) like money and time, are valid concerns, but we can knock them down, walk over or around them if we must, only if we’re willing to put effort and time and passion into it. And don’t think you have to do it all yourself; perseverance will help you knock down those walls that life will inevitably put in your way, but surrounding yourself with positivity and people who support you is essential.

It’s also important to remember that fear is nothing more than an excuse in itself, and worst of all, it’s one we birth and nourish. In the end, we use all these excuses to build walls which we then put up and stand behind, hiding and shying away from our dreams: we use our own fears to stop ourselves from living a fulfilling life. Doesn’t that seem completely counter-intuitive?

Fear is a wall we create ourselves and it is one that no one else can knock down for us. And the worst kind of fear is fear of fear itself, because it blinds us and paralyses us, it makes us lose sight of what’s important, and it’s all in our heads: fear can only become real if we make it real. Otherwise, it’s no more than our own paranoia and creativity having a good laugh at our expense. Daniel Defoe said it best in Robinson Crusoe:

“Thus fear of danger is ten thousand times more terrifying than danger itself when apparent to the eyes; and we find the burden of anxiety greater, by much, than the evil which we are anxious about…”

So when you fear fear is crushing you, stare it down, push it down, knock it over, and use it as a propeller; defy it, dare it, and let it motivate you: show fear that you don’t fear it, that it’s no more than your imagination trying to stop you from finding your bliss, and that you, and only you, are master of your imagination, and therefore, of your fear.

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