I realized something recently. I have lived most of my life out of fear. Growing up, my parents had strict rules on what they thought was right and wrong with little room for error. When I did mess up it was as if I had never done anything right. As if everything good was washed away. So, as you can imagine, that left me pretty scared of making mistakes. I thought once a mistake had been made there could be no coming back both for my good name or my ability to get better at whatever it was that I screwed up on.
Unrealistic expectations led to me being so afraid of failure that I never took risks.
I stayed out of sports and didn’t like doing anything out of my comfort zone. To this day, I still have a hard time leaving my comfort zone for fear of failure. I have felt that I have never truly lived outside of my personified shell. Always hidden behind a mask carefully constructed hoping others would see what I wanted them to see. The funny thing is that in retrospect, we are the only ones who end up not being able to see ourselves.
Because no matter how hard we try to be perfect, people can still see us. The only person we are fooling is our self.
It’s like the story of the emperor’s new clothes by Hans Christian Anderson – in the story, the emperor’s tailors tell him he is wearing invisible clothes. Believing them, the emperor parades around town thinking everyone will see (or not see) what he sees. However, people could always see that his clothes were make-believe.
My fear has often constructed a character of make-believe. I put up walls to keep out the things I think would taint me. I put up walls to the things that involved a high risk of failure or being seen out of sorts.
But the truth is, living a life out of fear is living a lie. It is suffocating any chance of authenticity. True authenticity only grows through the organic grounds of uncertainty and raw response.
Authenticity cannot be made up. It is the result of who you are from your experiences.
I have started to come to terms with failure. Failure is not a bad thing. It hurts, but from failure grows more understanding of yourself and the things and people around you. I have found strength in my resolve and my values as I find out what they are through my failures. I don’t need to be perfect. I can’t be. The only truth I will live by from now on is the true desire of my heart and soul.
I am learning slowly and discovering that when I take risks and live not from fear but from a place in my soul that is longing to have a chance to be seen and try and risk, I become stronger and a little less afraid than I was before.
Where there is no fear, love and kindness can begin to grow.
Growth has been something I’ve only ever dreamed of, but now I am beginning to experience its truth as I stand up against my insecurities and just try.
Don’t let fear make your choices for you anymore. Take a small step towards the things that scare you. Little by little your walls of fear will dissipate and you will be brave.