Sunday, June 13, 2010

on fear

Friday was day 4 of 21.5.800. Bindu prompted us to write about fear. Since I live way out east in New Zealand, it was already day 5 when I read her post - but still it started me thinking about what it is I fear. What is it that holds me back, keeps me awake at night, makes me want to run away from what is staring me in the face?

It wasn't an easy thing to do. I almost abandoned the whole thing (and seeing as it was already day 5 I felt I could get away with skipping it quite legitimately). It seemed to me that writing down my fears would somehow make them real, make them come alive, give them more power and quite possibly, make them come true!

To be honest I was afraid of writing down my fears!

So I put that at the top of my list.

And suddenly it didn't seem so scary anymore. So I continued. When I'd finished I'd written 964 words about all the things I fear. I read through the list and it seemed to me that now that they were there in front of me, in nice neat Garamond size 12 font, out of my head and on the screen, they all seemed a little less terrifying. Most of them were downright petty. I felt lighter, freer, and less afraid.

And the most significant thing I learned through the process and I can honestly say that it took 964 words for me to figure it out was this: I always thought my biggest fear was of not being good enough, of being rejected, criticised or even worse, ignored. I do (like most members of the human race) have a certain amount of fear of being abandoned. But what I learnt yesterday is that I have a bigger fear - the fear of not being authentic. I am petrified of being a fake, a carbon copy of what I think I 'should' be. I will risk ridicule, criticism and even rejection as long as I am true to who I am and what I believe in. So I realised that it's time for me to stop wasting so much energy(/fear) on whether I am good enough - and just get on with the essential task of being me. Something which isn't really scary at all. It is after all what I was born to do!

It does require a certain amount of daily excavation though: a persistent and determined digging through all the stuff that doesn't fit; a huge amount of honesty with the ones we love; a willingness to say how we feel even when it makes us feel vulnerable; the courage to shed the masks that cover our real selves; the curiosity to keep growing in new directions, to keep redefining who we are; the patience to forgive ourselves and begin again when we veer off course; a readiness to step out of the shadows and into the light.
Nothing less than a lifetime's work.

Thank you, Bindu for this valuable prompt!

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