One of the most powerful acronyms of FEAR I have come across is “False Evidence Appearing Real” perhaps because it aptly describes what fear is most of the time.
I am a fan of Prince EA and when I listened to his video on his “embarrassing story of fear” it resonated with something deep in me and reminded me of an experience I had when I was about 6 / 7 years old. We lived in Lusaka, Zambia and because of the nature of my father’s job at the time, we were privileged to attend one of the best schools attended by most children of the expatriate community. I was a very good swimmer, so good that I qualified for the swimming gala. Anyway the day for the finals came, parents had been invited and my parents were proudly seated amongst others waiting for their daughter to do them proud. I was in the changing room when dreaded fear paralyzed me – How did I ever think that I could compete and win? What was I thinking? If I went out I would loose and disgrace myself, my parents…. As these thoughts were playing in my head, I heard my name being announced to come out as our race was about to start but I couldn’t move… I was paralyzed with fear…I made a decision not to show up rather than risk losing and in that moment I allowed fear to stop me. The side of the story we’d never know is what if I had competed and won? What difference would it have made to my self-esteem… my life?
I’ve heard of young people who have deliberately chosen to underperform for fear of the pressure success brings, some refuse to speak up for fear of being laughed at and some have pretended to be who they are not for fear of being rejected by the crowd the so desperately want to belong to.
With age and experience, here are a few things I have learnt about fear:
- It knocks on everyone’s door … young…old…rich…poor…popular…lonely.
- Fear can be as much a friend (protecting us from danger), as it can be an enemy (stopping us from seizing opportunities).
- It’s not so much about the issue that’s causing the fear, but how we respond.
- “Courage is not the absence of fear, it is acting in spite of it” – Mark Twain
- We are the only ones that can give fear permission to stop us.
So the next time you feel fear, face it! Now “face your fears” doesn’t mean go ahead and do something stupid. It means rather than deny the existence of fear, objectively consider the issues, make an informed decision and act.