A conversation with Fear

Sometimes Fear wins. Despite wanting to do something, thinking positive, knowing we “should” be fine, preparing for something, thinking it’s silly to be scared, being egged on or even ridiculed by others, sometimes Fear just puts all its legs and claws out like a cat going into a carry basket and says “NOPE. No frikkin way I’m doing that, whatever you say or do I don’t give a shit, I’m out”. And it makes all sorts of very compelling arguments why you should listen. Maybe Fear has a point.

And then you get that horrible Fear hangover where you feel a bit grotty and like you just wanna hide in a hole for a while (maybe forever). And that you missed out. And that everyone else is better / having more fun than you. And you’ll just go back to your alright life and it doesn’t really matter, you didn’t want it that much anyway. Except deep down somewhere you can’t help feeling that you’re a crap, fearful and rubbish person and you’ll never do anything you really want in life cos Fear always wins.

Well, Fear does sometimes win. It’s very good at winning, it’s had your whole life to practice at it. If it’s used to winning it will know exactly which buttons to push. If you’ve been used to it winning you may have forgotten what to say to fight back. But it doesn’t have to win every time. It might win today. But maybe not tomorrow. Maybe it needs to lose on a seemingly small and insignificant thing first – Fear will think “Pah, that was nothing, I don’t care that I lost this time, I usually win”. But it will have shown a weakness. And next time it will have a harder time trying to convince you that it’s always right. And you’ll know that it can lose.

Sometimes Fear not winning might be a big event: coming out about being gay by shouting from the rooftops or jacking in that job, selling your house and moving to the Bahamas. But Fear can be shown that it doesn’t win just a little bit every day. You walk into that new class with a smile, even though you know no one. You disagree with someone about their opinions, even though you always avoid conflict. You walk through that crowd even though there’s so many people you can’t see which way to go. And every little success you have over Fear, the more Fear’s arguments become weaker and less important.

I used to lose out to Fear a lot. Fear would tell me I was no good at acting compared to others so why bother auditioning. That I was annoying or boring so please stop talking. That I wasn’t as pretty as my friends so why would any boy want to go out with me. That if a boy was talking to me then watch out, they’re probably taking the piss behind my back. That I shouldn’t travel on a train because there was no escape if I suddenly needed to get out. That I was going to be stuck in a career I didn’t like for life because that’s what my degree was in. Fear kept me trapped like a prisoner in some weird relationship where we were both convinced it was ultimately a good thing as it would keep me safe. Except every time Fear won it got a bit more confident for next time and slowly got involved in more and more of my life until it was my main adviser and my world felt very, very small.

There wasn’t really one major thing I did to turn the spiral round to start it going back up again. I remember once I went to a rehearsal for a show because I wanted to join a theatre group. I didn’t know anyone so Fear told me I was bound to make a fool of myself, no one would notice or care I was there, they wouldn’t want me in the group and therefore the whole thing was a bit of a waste of time. Well, that day I told Fear to do one and thank you for your advice but I’m going in anyway. I did join the theatre group for about year, got to know a few people and was even in one of the shows. It didn’t completely change my life, but it did show Fear that it wasn’t always right. And there were other times too when I won a small victory and over time the victories became more significant and suddenly I was winning Fear arguments I never thought I would. This year I’m going to a festival on my own with my three year old daughter. I never thought Fear would let me get away with that one.

Fear still chats to me fairly regularly. Sometimes I listen and it convinces me to stay at home, not spend money or stay safe. But more often than not now I dismiss Fear’s arguments because I know they don’t make sense and my life will be so much richer and fuller if I put its very good points aside and carry on regardless.

Just because Fear won you over today doesn’t mean it will win you over every day, or in fact ever again. Don’t dismiss those little wins. Everyone has to start somewhere.



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