Fear has a way of both holding us back and pushing us forward. Life is all about balance, and nowhere is that more true than when dealing with your inner-most fears. What makes us fear? We fear out of necessity, in order to preserve the self, but we also fear out of a desire to preserve the idea of the self. Fear protects us in many ways, but it also holds us back. I believe that I have been both blessed and cursed by fear. Fear is what has kept me out of countless dangerous situations as I gallivant around, feeling invincible in my youth, but fear has also kept me from speaking and acting out.
We need fear to tell us that our instincts are right. It tells us not to trust a stranger at night, or to double check that we turned the stove off. This is the good kind of fear. It is the fear for those we love that urges us onward to protect and defend them. A fear that tells us danger lurks. A fear that tells us to trust ourselves. But it also tells us not to take risks, not to embarrass ourselves, not to live. We can so easily become a slave to fear, shivering in our uncertainty. Fear keeps us quiet when we see someone being talked down to, talked about, walked all over. Fear shuts us down when all we want to do is soar in our dreams, imaginations, and ambitions. I believe, however, there is an antidote to fear: acceptance of it. You must accept your fear and see it for what it is. Ask yourself: am I afraid because of what may happen to me, or because of what others may say has happened to me? If your fear stems from the darkness of the unknown, acknowledge it and wave to it as it passes by. Let it wash over you, and be grateful for it, and then let it go. You must move forward and take chances, because without the risk of life, you cannot truly live. So this summer I challenge you to ask yourself: have I become a slave to my fear? Stand on the precipice of your life and take the leap. Take risks, make mistakes, do something stupid, and see what it’s like. Speak up for someone in a situation that may make things uncomfortable. Give a voice to the voiceless. Follow a passion. Stray from the traditional and do what makes you really, truly, and deeply happy. I challenge you to live. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the outcome.