Fear. It’s such a tiny little word and yet it rules every single thing in our lives. We cram homework in high school and college because we fear not graduating. We stop to put gas in our cars when the light comes on because we fear having to walk a mile with an obvious red bucket. We get into or stay in bad relationships because we fear we will be alone or we fear we have too many kids to start over.
In every aspect of our lives, there is fear. Even down to something as simple as setting an alarm clock for fear of waking up late and then arriving late to wherever we are going.
Some fear is good like the speeding up of your heart fear that you get when you stand on the edge of a mountain. Fearing the fall is good. Fearing your untimely death can be good. It stops you from making stupid mistakes. But sometimes, fear is the stupid mistake you are making.
I’ve lived so many of my years in fear. I was scared I was not raising my kids right. I was scared I would die before they were all 18. I was scared I was an embarrassment to them because I wasn’t as successful as their friends’ parents. I never took into consideration back then that their friends’ parents had twenty years on me. When my kids were starting kindergarten, a lot of the other parents were around the age that I am now. They were in their late thirties, early forties. Looking back, I’m sure they were just as scared as I was to send their kids to school every day. I’m sure they were just as worried that they were going to fuck their kids up too.
Every day for the last 15 years, I would wake up and think about all the books I was going to write. And that would be it. I would get dressed and go to a job I hated, doing work that I tolerated and never ever sit down to write a single fucking word. And why? Because I was scared. I was scared that nobody would like what I wrote. I was scared that everybody would like what I wrote and maybe I wouldn’t be ready to share it. It doesn’t make much sense to be scared of failure and scared of success at the same time, and yet that’s been the story of my life.
And then I hit that magical number of 40 two years ago. And something inside me changed. My kids were all grown up. I didn’t have to teach anybody how to behave or how to be a decent human being anymore. I had succeeded there. I didn’t have to be scared that I’d fucked up my kids because they all three have turned out great. I accepted that fear is not to be feared but embraced and then pushed away. I stopped being scared of being alone and instead started fearing being miserable with the wrong person. And through that, I became content, happy even. I started writing every day. Even when I started this little blog I was scared. I was scared to put myself out there for the world to read. What if people didn’t like what I was saying? What if. what if, what if….
And then it dawned on me. Fuck everybody. It doesn’t matter what people think of me. That’s actually none of my damn business. What matters the most is the value I place upon myself. And I realized that I am too great of a woman to settle for 10 O’clock booty calls. I am too good of a writer to keep all those words in my own head. Even if a million people never read my stuff. What if I write something that resonates with one person?That’s all that matters. I’ve never had it in my mind to be famous. I’ve always enjoyed sitting in the back of the room watching versus being on the stage. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have anything to say. In fact, I may have more to say because at the back of the room is where you experience everyone’s emotions and reactions. Their true reactions. On stage, you have that light in your eyes and you can only guess how people are looking at you.
And so I wake up every day and keep doing what I used to fear. I live my life the way I want without regard to anyone else’s opinions because after all, I am the only one paying my bills. I don’t do anything to hurt anyone. And most importantly, I’m happy.
And the fear is there. It stays there. In the back of my mind like every negative thought I’ve ever had about myself. It’s perched right there. A vulture. Waiting to chew on the carcass of my regrets. The regrets of all the things I never did because of fear. So I try daily to get over the fears. I still set my alarm because I don’t want my kid to be late for school. But after I get him to school, I come home, sit down, and write all the things I’ve been scared to write for the last decade. And even if nobody ever picks up anything and reads it, I’m happy. And that in itself is an empowering feeling.