What scares you? I don’t mean the things that go bump in the night (though I readily admit they scare me). I want to know what scares you. What makes you say, “I’m not going to try that, what if it doesn’t work.” “I can’t do that, what if I fail?”
When I teach lessons in class many of my students, when they are exploring a concept, will ask, “What if…” questions. “What if I do this…?” “What is she does that…?” I tell my students, “I don’t deal in ‘What If’s.” This should become our motto when it comes to fear. No more “What If” scenarios. Stand proudly and tell yourself, “I don’t deal in ‘What If’s’!”
Now, making that our motto and actually living our life that way are two completely different things. I have many fears that have stood in the way of my happiness. Growing up I wanted to perform. I loved being in front of an audience. I practically lived at our local civic theatre when I was in high school. My first two years in college were devoted to musical theatre as my major. Then, after some financial concerns I moved back to Florida and attended Florida State University. I was accepted in their vocal performance major and was on the path into their musical theatre program. It was then that my inner critic began to take hold. “What if you can’t ever find a job?” “What if everyone laughs at you?” “What if they see what a horrible dancer you are?” “What if you have absolutely no talent?”
I’m sad to say I let my inner critic win. I am scared of performing now. I have “What if-ed” myself into a fear of performing. I used to have no greater pleasure than singing up on stage. I loved the thrill of the audience’s applause, belting a tune, and holding that final note. Now, my greatest performances come in front of a group of eleven year olds. I tell myself that I took the more noble path, that educating children, our future, is far more rewarding than performing. I try to convince myself that I have let go of my ego by choosing the life I currently lead. But, that is complete bullshit and I know it. But, if I keep repeating it, maybe one day, I won’t feel like I’ve cheated myself out of the life I dreamed of.
Once I let the idea of performing go, after listening to my inner critic, more fears began creeping in. My most crippling one now if the fear of being “talked about.” It’s that idea of not being able to control the situation. At times it is crippling for me. I try not to show the fear. I hate walking into the cafeteria at my school because I’m convinced that the group of children that are laughing are laughing at me (I recognize the giant ego at play to assume everyone it talking about me). At times I will allow infractions to pass because I don’t want a student to call me the word I live in true fear of being called, “FAG!” I have been called fag many times by students. I’m sure I will be called fag many more. But, it has become so derogatory a term that I can’t get beyond it when it happens. I’m taken back to my middle school and high school days when it was a popular epithet hurled at me by closed minded, small town boys. And believe me, I am completely aware that the middle schoolers that call me that now hold absolutely no power over me. And part of me wants to respond, “ddduuuuuuhhhhhhh!” But it is still painful. And pain is often accompanied by fear. We begin to fear the pain so much that it breathes new life into the the very object that should hold no power.
This is not to say that I allow this fear to win. I conquer it every day I walk into the school house. It is why I have perfected a “hard ass” persona with my students. They know I don’t take crap. But deep down that fear lingers and grips me with it’s cold powerful hands. I will not allow it to win. I will not allow any fear to ruin my happiness again.
I have a new dream now. I want to travel and write. My inner critic has talked me out of this many times over the recent years. But no more. I’m going to push ahead with it. This blog is just the start. I will not be taken hostage by fear again. It is no longer a matter of, “what if I fail?” Now, I stand strong and say, “I DO NOT DEAL IN WHAT IF!” Each morning I repeat my affirmation, “I am a prosperous and successful writer.” Though affirmations may not work for everyone, they are powerful to me. Find where you can draw power. Do one thing each day that scares you. Even if it’s as simple as walking into that cafeteria with your head held high. Don’t live a life of “What If!” Stand up now, own your dreams. Feel the fear and do it anyway.
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- What we’re scared of (justinwise.co.uk)