Finding Peace Through Fear

Fear is a tricky thing. Sometimes it’s easy to identify the source, and sometimes it feels as if the answer is buried at the very bottom of your conscience with no plans of surfacing. Most people would tell you that the solution to fear is to search for the cause, to decide if it is a real threat or something completely irrational; to follow that dark path and pinpoint start to finish. At 19 years old, it’s safe to say my soul searching has begun, and part of it is recognizing which of my fears are “justified.” See, I have become tired of letting my worries interfere with my desires, and it took running into fear head on to realize just how worthwhile doing what makes you uncomfortable is, how healthy uncomfortability can be. It helped me overcome two of my greatest fears. Both of which were “justifiable” per se, but irritating nonetheless. I have always been afraid of heights, a totally real fear, but I also shudder at the idea of physical activity. Now, I wouldn’t say it was physical activity that I was afraid of, but rather… weakness. Truth is I realized I had been fearful of failure in the realm of physical activity. Maybe this is because I watch my badass besties concur huge trails and two week long camping trips (perfectly documented on Instagram, of course), intense workout routines and all those crazy yoga poses you see on Pinterest (you know, the ones that make you laugh out loud because you know you’d end up in the hospital if you tried). Or, maybe it was deeper than that. All I knew is that if I ever wanted to stop saying no and start accomplishing things, I’d have to make the decision to jump.

About three months ago, I developed an unwavering interest in bouldering. Yes, dangerous rocks, heights and physical activity. Hilarious right? Why I ever even thought about doing it, I couldn’t tell you, especially considering I couldn’t even climb up a ladder without shaking. But for some reason, I couldn’t ignore the idea. I couldn’t seem to allow myself to say “this is obviously not for you.” Instead, it was more like “I will be so mad at myself if I don’t at least try.” So, I did. I jumped. Now, I’m not going to lie from the moment I walked into the gym I felt out of place, lost and even more anxious than I had anticipated. I had a few friends with me, all curious to see if I even made it on the wall that day. Looking back, there wasn’t one thing that made me do it if anything I believe it was my desire to hone that “no fear” attitude. So I got on the wall. Somehow, I got on the wall. I could pretend like my first attempt was eye-opening and brilliant and that I got to the top with no hesitations, but that would be far from the truth. I climbed back down after only a couple of steps. With my friends climbing around me I started to get frustrated with myself. I was angry that I couldn’t let go of this pointless fear, this barrier holding me back from what I considered success.

At some point, I snapped. I knew if I didn’t make it to the top, I would pine over it for way too long and feel worse than I did stepping in the gym. So right then and there, on that second attempt, I grabbed the finish and physically screamed because I was so excited. From then on, I’ve been hooked. What I felt in that moment was a sense of pride and not a single ounce of fear. Analyzing what I had just done, I realized that I wasn’t thinking about anything. I wasn’t worried, just focused. And that’s what made me realize how important this sport is to my daily life. I had found peace through fear. By doing exactly what it was that scared me, I proved to myself that I didn’t need to be afraid, that I could trust that my body and my mind would hold me up on that wall, that they would support me.

Sometimes the things were are most afraid of are the things that will bring us the most joy. I encourage you to do exactly what it is that you fear the most. Maybe it’s letting yourself feel. Maybe it’s booking a gig to show off your secret musical talent. Or, it could be similar to my fear, and getting yourself to go to the gym with your super fit friend. Whatever it is, step into it. Fully. Do not hold back. Just jump. I promise that it won’t be so bad. You might even enjoy it.