Its meaning is different for everyone. What we fear is individualized and customized just for us.
Some may fear abandonment. Some may fear death. Some may fear loneliness. But if you’re me, you fear being alone and not being approved of. You fear not being accepted. You fear not being loved during the hard times. You fear failure.
Fear has driven me most of my life. It drove me around for years, avoiding risks, keeping me safe and allowing me to stay in the boundaries of acceptance and approval of the ones I loved. As long as I was buckled up, following the map laid out for me, and staying in my lane, that was living and fear was winning.
But it’s true what they say, “Just when you think you have it all figured out, life happens.” Why? Because while fear can keep you from living, it can also push you to live. As we live, we grow, and we change. Age changes us, relationships change us, becoming parents changes us – circumstances change us. We are challenged and defeated time and time again. And if you’re growing, you’re getting back up after every defeat with a new lesson learned and a new perspective on your life.
The problem is, you can’t unsee that new vision.
But fear, fear will go to war with you. Fear will try to keep you in denial of what you saw; what you feel. Fear will keep you in the box of that car it drives you around in and make sure you don’t outgrow those bounds. It will keep you on the same path, the same roads without ever getting lost. Fear will provide you soft places to land, and comfort in knowing exactly where you’re going at all times. Fear will trick you into thinking there’s nothing out there for you. But you’ll know, deep down inside, you’ll know.
You will continue to gaze out of each window as things pass you by. You’ll see others doing hard things and changing their circumstances as their visions change. You’ll choose to judge them or love them. You’ll get to see the world with your new perspective, but don’t you dare try to get out of the car. “Don’t you dare,” says Fear.
The scariest day of your life will be the day you wake up and realize what Fear has kept you from. And no matter how many times you try to go back to that life where you live in denial, and don’t see Fear for what it is, you won’t be able to, because you can’t forget. Because Life has shown up and it’s not leaving.
This is where it hurts.
Life will force you to get out of the car for the first time in your life. You’ll open the door with so much resistance and fear. Everyone will look and gasp. They stare at you from the inside of their own cars. They scream at you to get back in your car as they roll their windows down just enough for you to hear them, but not enough to challenge their own fears. Fear will back them up and encourage what they spew. They talk about you with their windows rolled all the way up as they no longer acknowledge you. After all, you’ve broken the first rule of living in Fear; challenging Fear.
Your feet hit the pavement for the first time. You’ve dreamt about this, but it feels much different. As you put one foot in front of the other, you feel more scared with each step. You look back time and time again at your car. Your whole life is in that car. You run back, get in and slam the door only to cry at the overwhelming sadness that you can’t stay. You know you can’t stay. It’s not home anymore. It doesn’t serve you anymore. It hurts you.
It hurts so bad.
You want to unsee everything. You plead with God to blackout your windows and force a miracle to unsee what life could be like. But it won’t work.
And you step out again.
This time you make it farther. The car is becoming smaller in the distance behind you. And it’s official, you’re lost. No map, no sense of direction, and suddenly no one to lend a helping hand. The cars begin to pass you, familiar faces flying by as they stare at you with disgust and silence. The people you once shared your deepest thoughts and feelings with, have nothing left to say to you. You’ve betrayed them.
Your head hangs low. You don’t even care where you’re headed at this point. You’re hit with rocks, stones, drenched by mud puddles and thunderstorms as you trudge through the darkest nights of your life. You never knew you could cry so much, or hate yourself so much, but that voice inside you keeps you alive. It continues to force one foot in front of the other.
And then suddenly you see a car speeding down the road. You recognize the face in the window as it swerves over in your direction and comes to a screeching halt. That familiar face opens the door as you scream for them not to. “Don’t do it! You’ll be ridiculed, stay in the car or you’ll lose everything!” They act like they can’t even hear you and sprint from their car in your direction. Their arms are out and ready to catch you. You both fall as you cry.
You never thought anyone from your Fear based Life would show up to be with you in this New Life, but they have. And then suddenly more show up. One after another, after another, after another. As you ask them, “What about what others will think?” They tell you they don’t care. They tell you that you mean more than anyone’s opinion. They tell you they love you. They tell you how happy they are for your newfound life. They give you unconditional love, and begin to feel like they can face some of their own fears. And then they leave.
They always leave. But they always come back.
And you’re alone.
You continue on. You never get back in that car again. Do you think about it? Sure, but less every day. You come to understand that the only person you should fear won’t accept you, love you or approve of you, is yourself. You refuse to live in the confines of another Fear based life. Do you still struggle with Fear? ALL THE TIME! But you’re awake, you’re aware and you work every day to make that Fear smaller and smaller. Does it still hurt? YES! It hurts so much, but less every day.
You are no longer bothered by the whisperers, the hate spewers, the judgmental-s as they pass you by, because you love yourself in this New Life and that’s what you were missing in your Fear based life. You let the ones who don’t belong in your life pass and you cherish the ones who stop for you. You cherish them more than you can put into words.
Fear tries to show up in newer, bigger, shinier cars, persuading you to get in and try it out, telling you things will be different, but you’re too smart. You decline and choose to walk. You vow to walk the rest of your life. You meet new people as they get out of their cars for the first time. You help where you can and people begin to join you on your journey. New faces become familiar faces, and familiar faces become friendships that last a lifetime.
Suddenly, not only does your life look different, you look different. You’ve endured, you’ve thrived, you’ve done the impossible, and you’re still here. Your heart is the same but you’re full of new experiences, new knowledge and so much wisdom. Your love continues to grow and you share with only those who deserve you.
Its meaning is different for everyone. What we fear is individualized and customized just for us. And we can tell it to FUCK right off!