My Biggest Fear

I’m on Day 4 of Jeff Goins’ 15 Habits of Great Writers Challenge.  Today Jeff challenged us to publicly take a risk with our writing, such as blogging about something we’ve never told anyone.  And that’s what I’m going to do.

This is so, so, so scary.

Here I am, mentally shivering, about to take the plunge: I’m going share with you my biggest fear, the one I’ve struggled with my entire life.  Talk about feeling vulnerable.

Here goes.

Yep.

Here goes.

I’m afraid to look stupid.  There.  I said it.

You know what’s strange?  I can’t stand the word stupid and I don’t ever use it in regular conversation.  I certainly wouldn’t let my five-year-old use it.  But fear isn’t polite or politically correct, and if I’m being honest about my fear, that’s what the little kid in me would say: I don’t want to look stupid.

And now that I’ve verbalized it, it sounds ridiculous.  I know I’m not stupid.  There’s no question.  But still, fear isn’t rational, is it?

Fear can have far too tight a hold on us, limiting our growth and experiences.  Here are some of the ways this fear has affected me over the years:

– in the 6th and 7th grades I’d conveniently “forget” my shorts on gym days where we had to play baseball (I’m not sure how this got me out of playing, but it did), because I felt totally awkward playing baseball and didn’t want to be laughed at

– I didn’t particularly like trying something new in front of others, because I didn’t want to fumble at it and feel humiliated

– I avoided putting my hand up in class if the subject wasn’t something I was totally versed on

– In university I used to avoid courses that required public speaking, for the same reasons

– I used to get frustrated with myself when starting a new job because I didn’t have it all figured out right away, and didn’t want to make mistakes.

You get the picture.

You know how fear skulks in the damp, dark reaches of the mind, ever ready for the opportunity to unleash that fight or flight response?  Well, you don’t conquer an irrational fear by suppressing it, or it’ll rear its ugly head again.  No, you conquer it by acknowledging it and facing it head-on, allowing it to fade in the light of day.  So, now I’ve (very publicly) acknowledged mine by sharing it with you.  AND, in facing it head-on, I risk the very thing I’m afraid of:  looking stupid for posting this so anyone can read it.

But that’s okay.  Unlike when I was a kid, it now matters more to me what I think of me.  It’s time for me to let go of this stale fear of mine.  It’s not serving me and it imposes way too many limits.

I like the E.E. Cummings quote, “It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.”

It’s time for me to grow up.

This exercise was scary but liberating.  Are you ready to let go of an old fear that’s been holding you back?  Would you be willing to share?

About Christine

Positive thinker. Writer. Lover of travel and adventure, oceans and mountains, and the energy of a big city. Oh, and deep belly laughs, sappy movies and spirited conversations. Believer in limitless human potential.

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12 Responses to My Biggest Fear

  1. Jodi Chapman says:

    Bravo! This is so great that you allowed yourself to be vulnerable and share your biggest fear! In doing so, you open the doors for each of us to share our biggest fears, too, and know that it’s completely okay.

    I could really relate to many of your examples. I, too, went through college and took classes based on whether I would have to give a speech at the end. And reading out loud or going up to the board in school would send me into a full-blown anxiety attack (all hidden on the inside). I get it, and it’s only in the past year that I’ve been pushing through these fears.

    So what’s my biggest fear? Not being good enough. That’s definitely what it all comes down to for me. But I’ve found that each time I say yes to life, I’m fully supported. And each time my fear gets a little smaller. 🙂

    • Jodi, thanks so much for having the courage to share your fears and experiences! It’s ironic, isn’t it, that these fears actually have more power over us when we suppress them.

      I too have the fear of not being good enough – or simply, “enough” – but I’m working through it.

      So glad you’ve felt supported as you embrace life and take those steps forward. We’re so much more than we realize! 🙂

  2. Doesn’t it feel good to get it out there? Great job on the Challenge, and keep it up! I could relate in that for me, it wasn’t so much looking stupid as it was sounding stupid. I kept my mouth shut for so long. I rarely EVER spoke up in a class, and this was really crippling to me through college and then graduate school. I longed to be the person who could just talk out freely. I know I had good insights, but for some reason could not get them out. Well, I’m glad I’m not in school anymore. Like you, I have decided that I should not be fearing what other people think any longer. I do care what they think, but I need to have a voice. Thanks for being honest! I bet things will be changing for you. . .

    • Yes, it feels great to get it out there! 🙂 That old fear of mine has much less power over me now. And although it creeps up in minor ways now and again, I’m not willing to let it hold me back from amazing experiences.

      I hear you – I often held back from speaking up in class as well. Kudos for finding your voice! And the same to you – great job on the Challenge so far!

      Thank you so much for sharing – it’s really appreciated!

  3. Kat Cowley says:

    I love every subject you tackle Christine! My fear is being categorized. I’m southern (from TN living in Southern CA), so have the accent to go with it and it is AMAZING how many people will automatically discount my views or take on something b/c of that. The stereo type of being ultra conservative (aka closed minded) or not educated is something that many people revert to once they hear the word “ya’ll” leave my mouth. Like most fears though, it’s more-so something I manifest in my head than something that actually exists. Great post!!

    • Thank you so much Kat! That would be incredibly frustrating – especially if you feel you have to deal with such ignorance on a frequent basis! But kudos to you for having the wisdom to recognize that those people may not actually believe in those stigmas at all! Besides – from what I’ve seen in your posts and video clips, you’re insightful, intelligent, AND open-minded!! And those qualities come across right away. Thanks so much for commenting.

  4. Kira says:

    What a great post! Very liberating to read. My biggest fear is being rejected. If I let the real me out there, I’ll be shunned. Ostracized. Cut off from all civilized society. Tee hee… like in your post Christine, fears are not polite or reasonable. I am letting out the ‘big-ness’ of me more and more freely these days. Depending on the situation, that means I am sweating and my heart is pounding. Feels like a big risk. But the rewards are amazing! Recently I went to a weekend workshop with a huge group of people I didn’t know. I thought ‘well I’m here – I’m going to jump in with both feet.’ So I did! I was enthusiastic, I was curious and let myself ask as many questions as I wanted to, I laughed out loud when the impulse took me… I was… Big! I really showed up. Allowing myself to do that was a big win, and enough in itself. But then I got a beautiful affirmation. Several people came up to me during the weekend and said ‘I love your energy!’ ‘You’re giving me permission to show up more.’ wow. That really moved me. When we are ourselves, it’s good for the whole world. Journey continues…. Thanks for hanging it out there Christine. xoxo, Kira

    • Thanks Kira! And thanks to you too for putting yourself out there by sharing your biggest fear – I know it’s not easy and it means a lot. Isn’t it amazing how freeing it is to actually stare the fear down and refuse to let it control you? That’s fantastic that you were “fully present” and authentic at the workshop. I agree, it’s better for everyone when we’re ourselves – we all have something unique to bring to the world!

  5. Sarah says:

    This is FANTASTIC. I could have written it myself- you described me exactly. Even as an adult I find it so hard to put myself out there for fear of looking like an idiot and embarrassing myself. I am working so hard to NOT pass that on to my children because I don’t want them to grow up with my insecurities.

    • Thanks so much Sarah! Once a fear is carried around for such a long time, it’s hard to kick it to the curb, isn’t it? But acknowledging it really helps. And I soooo hear you – I too am trying so hard to not pass this on to my kids… they’ll have enough of their own to deal with!! Thanks for commenting.

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