Choosing Fearlessness

Everyone has fears, even the people who say they don’t. Being afraid isn’t just a part of life, it can be a healthy part of life. Fears help us know and respect boundaries. Fears keep us safe. Fear is a natural response to sensing danger. Fear keeps us alive. 

But not all fears are helpful. Some people have fears that have ruined their lives: fear of being rejected, fear of being a failure, fear of being exposed, fear of success, and the list goes on. 

I remember a time in college when I was overwhelmed with fear. It was the week of final exams during my freshman year, and I was about to go home for the summer. The thought struck me to my core: I don’t think I’m going to miss anyone- and if I happened to not return to school in the fall, I don’t think anyone would miss me, either. It was a horrifying thought. I had spent the entire year investing in friendships, searching for a group of people to belong to, and at the end of the year when I had hoped that I would find my lifelong friends, I had to admit that the year was a bust and I was afraid that I would never find it. Really, if I was totally honest, deeper down was a fear that I was not interesting, not valuable, and even unlovable. 

After working with college students for well over a decade, I know many students who’ve been struck by the same fear, and made the decision to not return to school. Some of them dropped out of college, and some of them transferred to other schools. The fear of not being known, of not belonging, of not being loved was so overwhelming that they chose to run away. Sure, they probably wouldn’t admit that they were running away, but they were. Rather than dig into the fear, to face it, change their behavior and attitude and mindset, they gave up and tried to start over somewhere else. How do you think life turned out for them after they transferred?

When I entered into that summer between my first and second year of college, I really, truly faced that fear. In hindsight, I don’t think I had done enough to take initiative with new friends. I was timid and reserved, and with a bit of social anxiety I rarely spoke up or asked people thoughtful questions. In the middle of the fear that summer, I decided I wanted to step through it, to face it, and to change. I felt incredibly proud of myself, because started the Fall semester with a different perspective, and a year later I had found the lifelong friends I was hoping to find. 

Fears are powerful, and they can be overwhelming, even debilitating. But they don’t have to be.

You know you’ve got a debilitating fear problem if:

— You’ve often said no because you can imagine the consequences going really bad

— It feels easier to stay comfortable and safe than to get into the fray and do something risky

— You find yourself frequently trying to escape and numb your fear by behavior that distracts you (ie. drinking, eating, consuming the news, watching tv, working more, shopping, etc)

— You hide your fears from other people, don’t talk about them or really face them

You don’t have to have your life ruled by fear. You can make the choice to understand your fear, to name it, to talk about it with trusted advisors and friends, and get help to think through how to face it. 

In the YouSchool program, we guide people to explore and understand their fears: what they are, where they come from, how they impact your life, and how to face them. If fear is ruining your life and you’re sick of it, consider signing up for our 1-1 or Group Program today.