Embracing Your Fears

Last weekend, my best friend and I had a marathon of our favorite childhood throwback movies. With popcorn and Girl Scout cookies in hand (our signature arsenal of movie snacks), we jumped from Beauty and the Beast to The Lizzie McGuire Movie to Mary Poppins and more. Out of nowhere, in the middle of The Princess Diaries, I heard this line:

“Courage is not the absence of fear. It’s realizing that something else is more important than fear.”

                                                                 Photo Courtesy of Unsplash

I can't decipher if me hearing this quote was fate or coincidence, but it shook me to my core. I actually paused the movie to type this into my notes after I heard it. Days later, I played the words back over and over in my mind. It reminded me of a story.

Something I did years ago that I’m still proud of myself for is making the decision to stand on a stage in front of my entire middle school and sing “Stay” by Rihanna in the school talent show. This was my first time singing in front of anyone - let alone 2,000 kids - and my crippling shyness as a 12-year-old made it a million times scarier. But there is a reason that, so many years later, I’m still proud of my younger self… it's because I knew how terrified I was, but I did it anyway.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m no shining example of courage or inspiration. In fact, I feel held back by my fears a lot of the time. But I do think that the spark that drove younger-me to conquer my stage fright still lives within my 18-year-old self. Think of the last time you swallowed your fear and did something that terrified you... why did you do it? Probably because you cared enough about something to push the fear aside.

                                                                  Photo Courtesy of Unsplash

Take any difficult situation – having the guts to break up with a toxic friend/significant other, committing to a college, taking a daunting exam – to do these things, you have to have courage. When it comes to conquering fear, think of it as a secret ingredient. Without it, we would live life in a comfortable little bubble, dodging scary situations like they're the plague.

As humans, we're biologically programmed to have fear because it keeps us safe from potential harm. It isn't such a bad thing. And having courage isn't about somehow eliminating it... its about embracing it. Knowing that things scare us but refusing to be a slave to them.

So, I guess having courage is pretty simple... it's just about looking fear in the face, shrugging your shoulders, and pushing past it. 

I think that's the key. With shaking hands, the swirling fear of failure, and uncertainty of how things will turn out, you just do it anyway. That's courage.