When you’re a child, and you peer off into the night, the cool of the evening settled in your room, the curtains rustle, and you know that there is a monster in the corner. You know beyond a shadow of a doubt to your very core that this is the end, that monster is going to eat you and so you scream.
Then the light comes on. A parent stands in the doorway. You are coaxed out from under the covers, probably sniffing and have it revealed to you that there is nothing there. The imminent death you imagined is no longer. The fear lets go of your body, and you drift off to sleep comforted.
Being an adult can be the same sometimes.
I was afraid of being found out. Afraid people would discover that I was hiding this giant secret that I was, in fact, stupid. Imagine that. Not traditionally beautiful or good at anything much, the idea that I was also stupid was this quiet fear that lived in my chest.
My fear that I was stupid pushed me to prove myself. To myself mostly but to others as a way to keep it hidden. For it to stay private. I choose my path, committed to things and failed, in the same way, over and again all because my fear drove me. I would avoid situations and make choices based on that fear staying hidden.
But they never stay hidden for long. They can’t, not if that’s what you believe about yourself. If it is what you fear most, it has a funny way of showing up for you over and again. Over and over I found myself either looking stupid or hiding from being stupid… What a life. What life?
When I learnt to stop doing that, to ask for help when I needed it, to read for joy and learn for pleasure not to get somewhere or prove something, life changed. Everything from education, my ability to learn and the way I voice my opinion, even how I share on this blog, changed. I had the freedom to not know; to learn and make mistakes. Freedom to breathe and fail. That space was, simply, everything. The best.
Do I still look stupid sometimes? Sure. Do I feel stupid? Sure. But am I afraid that it’s something that identifies my entire self to the world? No, not at all.
When it’s all dark, and you’re alone your fears about yourself, feel big. They feel like maybe they are so big that we won’t get past them. Insurmountable and such. But fears can be broken down when you face them. When you turn on the light, gather your people to you and see what turns up with some clarity.
Fears disappear in conversation with those who don’t share the same fear as us, people who see clearly and can counsel you through. Beware though, two kids in a dark room filled to the brim with monsters are both afraid. Don’t surround yourself with people who share your fears and doubts. You might just find that your fear multiplies. In fact, I’d almost guarantee you that.
I challenge you today to stand and face those things you fear. Open your eyes and see them for what they are. Stories mostly, predictions of the worst case scenario.
What are you afraid of?
You don’t have to tell me here, but you can. Think about it for a minute and take my challenge to let it go. Too big? Maybe just loosen the reins a little.