In the past seven days, more than one person has told me they based a choice on fear. They have been “too scared” or “too weak” or “too afraid” to make a decision that was, indeed, scary, so they made another. Maybe it’s because Mercury is in retrograde or because there’s not enough poetry in the world (hey, why not? Someone write a rhyme, stat!). Whyever for, the season of fear-based reasoning seems to be upon us. And I’ve got to say: I don’t think petrification is the best motivator for making an informed choice (and I’m not alone on this one).
Do not let your fears choose your destiny. ~ Unknown
Choices equal what happens next. Not what happens forever, but what happens next. And the longer we choose based on fear, the longer we delay the rest of our lives. In my experience, fear-based choices tend to just prolong the inevitable. Afraid to leave a partner? Chances are you’ll leave them eventually. Afraid to choose the out of state college? Chances are you’ll transfer after a year. Afraid to love? Yep, you’re gonna love eventually (and probably a lot more harder because of it).
Too many of us are not living our dreams because we are living our fears. ~ Les Brown
God, and what a way to live, right? We gnash our teeth and wail, because we’re afraid of ourselves, of who we truly are. And mostly, we’re afraid of outcomes. We have a fear of how we are going to be perceived by the people who say they adore us. We are afraid of potential ramifications, the scary ones we dream up and keep alive by making a choice in fear. We’re afraid because so much our life feels controlled by other people, and if we can’t control them…then how do we know what’s going to happen?
Where fear is, happiness is not. ~ Seneca
Probably the worst thing about fear is that it doesn’t only affect you—it messes with the people around you. Real story application time: My friend from forever ago, MJ, started dating a girl in high school. They continued on into college, and then post college, too. At times, MJ wondered if he should break up with this girl – they had vastly different religious views, political views, and life goal views. But he always came back to the thought that he was freaking terrified of not finding someone else who would love him, or of being alone. He was afraid of what his family would think. What her family would. And their friends. Almost nine years into dating, MJ did eventually break it off. It wasn’t easy – hell, it was painful. And within a few years, his ex was happily married, and he is, too. All those years of struggle…only to wind up somewhere else. All because of fear. And all those years with his fear holding him back, and her back.
I have accepted fear as a part of life – specifically the fear of change…. I have gone ahead despite the pounding in the heart that says: turn back. ~Erica Jong
Truth be told, I’m a scaredy-cat.* Being of an anxious breed ensures that I am trepidation-prone when it comes to changing the status quo. But I’m the first to admit that rarely have I made a choice based on fear, and looked back and thought “Yeah, baby. That was wise.” In fact, I always look back and either try to change the outcome, or berate myself for my fear, realizing that being motivated by fear led me astray. Fear based decisions have a tendency to do that.
What’s sort of funny is once you move beyond your fear, all you see is how simple the path is. You were the only person standing in your way. Feeling scared? It’s okay. Nothing is settled. Nothing is over. There is still time.
*Recall: I wanted to turn Huckleberry Fit right around the second we set out on the road, and started the entire trip by telling Megan that I wasn’t sure I could go on (oh, she must have felt so confident in me at that moment). I wanted the comforts of what was familiar, what I knew. I wanted to stay static because…well, because why? There was no reason. Only fear.