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F.E.A.R. is the Child Locked in the Attic

November 17, 2010

Two nights ago, I went to support a good friend, Jennie Mustafa-Julock who was my life coach recently (check her out here she is great!). Her new venture is doing public speaking, so she was doing a demo video that showcased her skill sets.

One topic she touched on was fear. She talked about some people who approached life fearlessly as well as those who craved off of running towards fear and conquering it. She also listed some of the fears people experience throughout life, like success, failure, and the unknown, etc.

It made me reflect on my own fears and how I’ve let them deal with me dealt with them. In the past year I have realized that I’ve had fear overcome my life. And what’s interesting is that it really took me awhile to realize it, probably because I’d gradually become so accustomed to living my life fearfully. What was I afraid of you ask? Well I was never afraid of becoming successful, it’s always been just the opposite. One of my biggest fears I’ve had is the fear of becoming a failure.

Throughout my life, my mother has always been there to support me in all my endeavors. She made sure I lived a well-rounded childhood filled with extra-curricular activities to keep me active. She encouraged me to tap into my imagination and loved when I thought outside the box. She raised me opposite of how she was raised in the way that she allowed me to express myself even in adult conversation. She wanted (and still wants) me to follow my dreams and achieve any goal I set for myself. She also provided me with the opportunity for a higher education.

I have friends who went to grad school because their parents wouldn’t let them study their passions in undergrad. I have friends who have parents who still stress them over their life choices because they want them to live a certain way and have a certain occupation. But my mother has never done this, so with all of her support I already felt ahead of the curve.

You’d think having the type of mom I had would motivate me to reach for the stars and land on the clouds. But for some reason I created this pressure for myself to succeed because I knew I had her and others that believed in me, and counting on me to do well, because they knew I could.

So about a year ago, I got to a point where fear started to creep into my life. It was the fear of me failing but more descriptively, the fear of me not reaching my potential. I had people like my mother who believed in me and the support system of my family and friends, but the fear became such a prominent fixture in my life that I was paralyzed by it and didn’t even realize it. There were times I’d let opportunities pass me by because I didn’t have enough faith in myself to succeed. And it got to a point where the fear became my crutch. The fear had its own persona. She was like the bad friend that you knew was not good for you, but for some reason you kept her around anyways. I became so good at  rationalizing why I didn’t and couldn’t go out and do something that I knew deep down inside I could possibly succeed in. I guess it was because I was afraid of putting myself out there because by doing so, I would have to show others that I believed in myself when a part of me didn’t.

Eventually I realized that the fear was overcoming my ability to pursue my life goals. I eventually started to feel the weight of it and discovered it liked to surface when it came time to making decisions. Instead of living life, I watched life live from the sidelines. I watched others live their life as I wafted in my own. And I was jealous of it. I so wanted to be like my peers who did whatever they wanted because they could. I felt like a child who was locked in the attic and had nothing to do but look out my solitary window at the other children playing outside.

The problem was that I was the one who locked myself in the attic and purposely lost the key. I guess I figured no matter how envious I was seeing others have fun, watching them play was much safer and much more predictable. By not playing outside I could predict that, I would never fall and get hurt, or have conflict with others, or feel hated, or like an outcast. But in turn I became the outcast. I made myself the outcast by not participating. For some reason I had been punishing myself and placing myself in my own personal time out. And this was getting me nowhere.

I saw an acronym for the word FEAR on a website and it basically summed up the last year for me:

Forfeit Everything And Run

(For some reason the image of Julia Roberts escaping the altar in “Runaway Bride” comes to mind when I see this!…)

This acronym of fear sums up its definition succinctly. Fear caused me to run away from possibilities. It made me quit before I started. It made me believe I didn’t have a certain amount of control, when I did. Fear made me choose to lose without giving myself a chance to play.

Once I realized this, I knew I had to change things. My largest regret would be knowing that I let fear take over me and my entire life and doing nothing to change it. That would be the biggest failure I could ever experience.

With the help of Jennie, talking to my peers, and most importantly putting myself in check when the fear entered my thoughts, I got to the place where I am today. Right now I’m working on undoing the thought pattern that manifested in this past year and am gradually working  towards conquering my fears. And from doing so, I’ve realized I’ve gotten more satisfaction from trying things knowing that I may not succeed at everything I try, than from assuming I won’t succeed and by doing nothing at all.

I know it will be a gradual process and something I have to work towards everyday, but I know it will be the most beneficial thing I could ever do for myself. My ultimate goal is to get to the point where there are less and less “what ifs” because instead of thinking about what could happen, I will be experiencing it.

Have you ever locked yourself in the attic and let a fear stop you from doing something you know you could’ve succeeded in?

If so, what did you do to get over it?

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