Being Afraid: We Are More Than Our Fears
By Elan Morgan on March 04, 2013
I have been living with a lot of fear lately. I know I gave a whole talk on self-doubt and how to move through it so you can be greater than you know, but I'm still a huge fraidy cat, because so much of life looms so large. Some of it looms large and ugly, but even the parts that loom large and glorious are scary. I know I'm not the only one who feels this.
Image: TWINTHOMAS via Flickr
I have a lot of good things going on right now. I'm going to be the closing keynote speaker at BlogWest 2013, I'm going to be a speaker at Mom 2.0 Summit, I'm collaborating with an artist on a book right now, I have this new Three Way Death Match podcast, I am working on the highly-important-to-me #365poems project, and my design and consultation work is keeping me happy, challenged, and fed. These are all things that go in the looming-large-and-glorious camp, and yet they still scare the bejeezus out of me some days.
Can I do all of this?
Do people's expectations of me match my actual skill set?
Can I do all of this?
What if I make/say/do things, and people don't like them?
Can I really do all of this?
Do I have the strength to handle as much rejection as I might be asking for?
Can I really, really do all of this?
So, I was sitting here running through the list of all the things I could possibly fail at over the next six months when I watched this video that Jen Lee shared, "The Scared is scared", and now you have to watch it, because I said so, and it's good for you:
I'm waiting. No, really. Watch it. It's beautiful, and it's going to make you think better thoughts.
Did you watch it? Good. Now we can talk about it, because it reminded me of a couple of incredibly important things, one being this:
"When the scared feeling comes into you, the Scared is scared of things you like."
So I paused the video and thought of things I liked: I like holding hands with the Palinode under the table when we're out with friends, crunching through frozen blueberries with my back teeth, spooning with Onion, hanging out with friends from all over the world on Skype, waking up from a sleep so heavy it feels like I've just returned from an epic journey, all the shades of blue-green my dining room wall turns as the daylight shifts, and cold butter on slightly burnt toast.
I actually started to feel a little better, and then I got to what is my favourite part of the video, the point when we find out what happens after the story of Asa Bear and Toby Mouse at the pool ends:
"So, what are Asa Bear and Toby Mouse going to do when the pool closes?"
"They have so much that they can do in the winter. There are stories about winter. There are stories about other things. I have heard they once even had a sleepover."
When I am living inside my fear, it is so easy to forget that all these other stories are also going to unfold. It is so easy to forget that all these other stories will become possible both inside of and after the ones that are already happening now. It feels like a revelation every time I remember this:
Bits of yourself speak to you from your past about what happened then, and the you of now speaks to those stories about how they sit in the context of all that has happened since, and you become a powder keg of stories informing stories.
Scared is scared of the things I like, and I am more than the story of my fear.
We are all more than the stories of our fears.
And, if/when one failure or two failures or a whole avalanche of failures happens, they are not the ends of any stories, not really, because there are always, always more stories, and they've already begun somewhere, even as I felt myself falling down a hole. I just didn't know it yet.