What is it about fear that holds us back and keep us from fulfilling our greatest potential?
When I sit back and look at the majority of my life, one word to describe myself would be fearful. My experience with my self-doubt and constant need for external validation began at such an early age when I began my track and field career and it led to the creation of this intense fear of never being good enough. Even in year 14 of running track, I still lost to fear time and time again. I was fearful of being good enough, fearful of not being good enough, fearful of missing out on an opportunity and fearful to even take those opportunities. Fear won so many times that it ruined my self-esteem – with every failure that I experienced, there was even more self-doubt about myself as a person and about my capabilities.
Despite the awards, plaques and recognitions, I never quite accomplished all of the goals my coach and I set for myself. This sense of failure and self-doubt led me to really struggle for years after I hung up my spikes and ended my track career. I tore myself apart and was beyond frustrated that I never accomplished my goals that I had let slip right under my fingertips. I was mad at myself for being so fearful, but I never really did anything about the anger, regret and disappointment I felt, other than just feel angry, regretful and disappointed. It wasn’t until years later that I recognized my fear and my lack of self-esteem truly leaked into every part of my life. I had no sense of worth, so I allowed myself to be mistreated in a relationship due to the sheer fear of being alone. I was insecure, so I avoided talking to new people due to the fear of not having anything meaningful to say. I was frustrated with myself for all of my athletic mistakes, so I refrained from trying anything new because I was fearful of making even more mistakes and in turn feeling even worse about myself and my capabilities.
But by fearing failure, we fail to realize the very important and beautiful lessons we will learn from those failures that can help us to grow in so many ways that we never dreamed possible. Today, I encourage you to do something that scares you. Do something today that puts away your excuses, closes the door on your fears, and allows you to be one step closer to accomplishing your goals. That dream goal that you can’t stop thinking about but haven’t started acting on yet because of fear of failure? Start it anyway. That new activity you have been wanting to try but have been too fearful? Try it anyway. That person you have been wanting to ask out but are afraid you won’t know the right words to say? Ask them anyway. That move across the country you have been wanting to make, or that solo trip you have been dying to go on, but afraid of doing it when you do not know anyone? Move anyway, travel anyway. Change is scary and trying something new is scary, but I challenge you to do something that you are fearful of, that pushes you into a new territory of opportunities and strengthens your sense of worth. Truth be told, you may fail. Failing is never fun, but it is part of the process, and will allow you to learn, grow, adjust, find strength, and try again until you flourish. Don’t give up on that dream that you keep dreaming, fight the negative voices in your head – feel the fear, and keep moving forward anyway. You will most likely shock yourself of how capable you are in the process, and appreciate and love yourself that much more.
I know personally that I shocked myself when I found the strength to fight the intense fear I had of being alone. As I walked away from a toxic relationship, there were times I wanted to turn back, but I kept on walking and for the first time in my life, I was able to win the battle against my fears. Finally facing my fears catapulted me into beating fear time and time again this past year by deliberately putting myself in situations I was fearful of. I changed my mindset, and instead of telling myself I couldn’t, I told myself I could, and the results have been amazing.
My coach and I would always say that, “Rome wasn’t built in a day” and I am not quite sure I ever truly built Rome in the way that I envisioned it, but what I realize now is that I was growing the foundation of what would turn into me growing into someone and something bigger than I had ever imagined for myself. The Rome I was building was going to be more important than a time on a clock or a photo finish. The Rome I was building was the foundation of learning what it meant to love myself, to have self-esteem and to break down the walls of fear.
For the past few months, I was so fearful of starting this blog because I was afraid of putting my story out there and I was afraid of failing. I quickly became the self-doubting girl in the starting blocks at a track meet all over again, telling myself that building my dreams are not possible. But the idea kept stirring in my mind, my passion kept growing for this project, and so despite the fear, I started working on it anyway. I reminded myself of how strong I have become over this past year, and how that same strength would allow me to fight my fear of failing as it has before. Still even as I write a blog post on fighting fear, simply pressing the “publish” button has me shaking with nerves, but I have learned it is so important to come out of my shell and take risks, because never again do I want to think “I am not good enough” and miss out on the opportunity of a lifetime.
This time, I won’t let fear win. I won’t hold back. I hope you join me on this journey (and for those of you already here thank you, thank you, thank you!!), let’s feel the fear, despite the unknowns, and do this anyway – let’s build Rome.
Do one thing today that scares you, you will surprise yourself at how strong and capable you truly are.
Be Beautifully, Simply, You