I’m convinced: there’s no such thing as fearless. Not in the beginning, anyway.
I am not naturally the risk-taking type, but I’ve always been secretly jealous of people who are. You know, the carefree, daredevil-ish ones who are constantly doing dangerous, exciting things without batting an eye, as if they’re not afraid of anything. The fearless ones (so I thought). Then I married one of those people. And discovered I was wrong.
Here’s the deal: everyone is scared. Even people who approach life with reckless abandon—they’re all scared at some point. Life isn’t easy for anyone, no matter how much it may seem like it; some people just hide it better than others. And of course, the more you push yourself to take risks, the less scary they become.
When I started Adventure & the Wild, I was terrified. All I could see was how much I didn’t measure up to all the incredible talent and businesses I saw online. It was a classic case of the comparison trap. I’ve had a long history of coming up with cool ideas, planning them out, and then when it comes time to actually make it happen…I back down. This time, though, I decided that I wasn’t going to do that this time—no matter how scared I was. And here I am. I still battle fear on a daily basis, but I’m amazed at how much easier it has become to silence the fear and keep moving. The key, I think is this:
"Decide that you want it more than you’re afraid of it."
If you keep waiting until you’re not afraid, you’ll never do it. Instead, you have to change the way you think about fear.
1. Recognize that fear is a feeling—that’s it. Just like any other emotion, you get to decide how to act on it. It doesn’t mean that it’s never valid or worth tuning into, but it does mean that it is fully within your power to ignore when necessary. The feeling doesn’t have the final say. You do.
2. Treat fear as a challenge. Make it into a game, even. When you make the conscious decision to view fear as an obstacle to get past, rather than something that paralyzes and defeats you, it's easier to find the confidence to keep moving forward.
3. Give yourself permission to mess up. The possibility of failure is an inherent part of taking any kind of risk. Everyone starts as a beginner, and let’s face it: when you’re learning something new, you’re going to make mistakes. It’s not a bad thing; it’s just part of the process. If you don’t just accept it upfront, you’ll be setting yourself up for a lot of unnecessary frustration (which makes giving up a whole lot easier). When you allow yourself the freedom to make mistakes—and even to fail—you make fear that much less powerful.
4. Trust. More than anything else, it is my faith that pulls me through even the scariest situations and allows me to do hard things while keeping my peace of mind (for the most part, anyway). It can be easy to think that following God will be restrictive, but I’ve found my relationship with Him to be the biggest adventure of my life. The very best thing is that even though He sometimes calls me to do very risky, difficult things, I can rest easy knowing that He led me there and will take care of me.
Your turn! What are some of your best strategies for overcoming fear? Also, I want to hear your stories—let me know some ways that you’ve pushed past fear and done some scary-but-worth-it things in your own life!