Understanding Fear

Over the last 5 weeks, I’ve traveled to Los Angeles, Paris, Cannes, Montenegro, Croatia (2 weeks, 10 towns/cities), Barcelona, and now Seville. I’ve had friends with me the entire time and it’s been wonderful, but I’m getting ready to swing the pendulum in the other direction.

It’s time for solitude.

Last summer I started waking up early to walk around Central Park before work. I took long 1-2 hour walks almost daily. It’s how I started to think about the vision I had for myself, the changes I was going to make, and my process for how to get there.

Since May, I’ve been thinking a lot about what’s next for me and how I want to challenge myself and grow in the next chapter. I’ve had half-formed thoughts for weeks, but haven’t spent the time to really let them marinate. Last night and today, I pieced together a few clues about the thought exercise I’m going to put myself through.

It has to do with fear and understanding what I’m scared of.

I was reading this ReCode article about Priscilla Chang and it ended with the following:

As Sandberg and Chan wrapped up their conversation at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women’s conference last October, Sandberg ended her Q&A with this: “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”

Chan replied: “I’d be right here doing this.”

It made me wonder if I could honestly give the same answer. If I wasn’t afraid, would I be doing exactly what I’m doing and living the life I have?

Fast forward to this morning when I opened my InBox in search of Seth Godin. He always has these incredible gems to get my brain in motion. Today’s post was about fears of voluntary education, what holds us back from learning and taking action.

The door is open to be heroic. To go on the journey from a place of fear. Not to wait for the fear to go away before you begin, but instead to begin precisely because there is fear.

It felt like an extended prompt of the question, “What would you be doing if you weren’t afraid?”

And finally, in my quest for a good yoga class here in Seville, I found myself scouring dozens of local websites. I landed on a studio about a mile away from where I’m staying and was struck by this quote on their homepage:

Nuestros miedos no evitan la muerte frenan la vide… Si nada te impidiera seguir tus sueños, probablemente tu vida sería muy diferente… Para superar el miedo necesitamos cambiar emocionalmente: debemos mudarnos al amor. – Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

My translation and reading comprehension skills are far from perfect, but the main gist of this quote is something along the lines of this:

“Our fears do not prevent death, they stop life. If nothing prevented you from following your dreams, your life would probably be very different. To overcome fear we need to change emotionally: we should move to love.”

Whether a coincidence or a sign, these three artifacts have inspired a conversation I look forward to having with myself in the coming weeks.  As I think about my life and the course I’m going to chart, what fears are holding me back?

How can I use fear as a catalyst to learn, grow, and more importantly, love? 

 

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