Screw the Fear, I am a writer.
This text is a long time coming having spent the past year now in grad school tossing back and forth with ideas of how to turn the abstract into something tangible and something authentic. This indecision has put me in a place of a sort of purgatory where I have pages and pages of lists, notes, and ideas with very little development in any direction. It seemed as though my tendency to over-analyze was preventing me from deeming decisions good or bad. They were left as merely possibilities. Now that it’s summer the only force that I have to propel me and my work forward is myself. It’s a strange paradox to be extremely self-motivating and confident and simultaneously be the one thing standing in my own way. But what is it that keeps me frozen here when I know deep down I deserve to be dynamic? Fear. Even writing that word down makes it less of a threat. It’s a tricky thing because it cloaks itself under many different names: apprehension, anxiety, doubt, worry, procrastination, avoidance, stress, dread, uncertainty. Why does a four letter word carry so much weight? Because we let it. Sure it exists, there’s no sense pretending it’ll disappear. But why can’t we embrace it? Welcome it even? In so many situations I’ve felt its lurking presence and in the past I gave it power. But what is fear? What exactly are we afraid of? Fear of failure? Fear of success? Fear of isolation? Of ridicule? Disappointment? By the time you make a list of the things you are or could be afraid of you’re sitting there crippled in your imagination and suffocating and being crushed by your own searching for ‘what if’ worst case scenarios. You’re searching for a limit that doesn’t exist. (ayooo! Mean Girls reference! Get used to it)
But what if we began to consider fear in a much different way? Sure fear is usually an unpleasant feeling. But I’d like to propose an alternative mentality. What if fear can be viewed as an indicator that we’re on the brink of greatness? Not everyone chooses to be great, in fact, most people don’t. Or don’t realize they can. Unless the fear you are feeling is due to a one-on-one encounter with a wild animal that hasn't eaten in days your fear is temporary. Daring to act in spite of fear separates what is easy and what makes something worth it. Sure there is a bit of recklessness involved at times but if you can act beyond fear suddenly falling short is not the end, but part of the creative process.
It comes down to how you choose to look at fear and that you decide to act. Your thoughts are something you can control with practice. One of my all-time favorite quotes reads:
“Decide that you want it more than you are afraid of it”
The reward begins to outweigh the risk in a cascade of possibilities in your favor. Sure the quote is credited to Bill Cosby which has a lot of problematic weight to it, but I think it still has some use to it.
So this is my decision to act in spite of fear, to move forward. To push past the limits and uncertainties I put around my work. Who knows where this all will end up going but for once I find this face exhilarating. There is not necessarily an end, only a perpetual creative process. That’s not to say there are not concrete benchmarks or goals I have in mind. You know, like completing this whole thesis thing. But for now I’ll just roll down the windows and ride.