I write and publish scary stories for a living. Why? I honestly don’t know a lot of the time. It has something to do with watching Poltergeist when I was 4, Evil Dead when I was 5, and reading Pet Sematary when I was 12. It’s not my mom’s fault. I just had a series of very bad babysitters.
Anyway, there’s something that draws me towards what scares people. Fear is something that can be fomented and fostered, and as a horror writer, something that can be packaged and presented in a way that is much more palatable. That’s the magic of fiction. By telling the scary story as a fiction, you gain control over it in a way that real life can’t do.
So, I think about fear a lot. What people are afraid of, what creeps them out. Here’s a handy reference of things that people in my real life are afraid of:
- Talking to strangers
- Falling out of a helicopter
- Very small hands
You get the picture. Everybody is weird and everybody is afraid of something. And some of us are afraid of something weird.
As for me personally, I’m terrified of three things: being boring, heights, and having a rock chip hit my front tooth while I’m walking on the side of the road.
See? Totally weird.
Of course, being afraid has its merits. It is a holdover from our more primitive brains, with the fear doing the wonderful job of keeping us alive. Don’t you want to lick that unusual and lovely red fruit? NO YOU DO NOT, the brain says. BECAUSE YOU WILL DIE.
And, for a long time, the brain was right. Up until some guy named Robert Gibbon Johnson decided to stop listening to the fear voice and sat on a roof eating tomatoes while the people below read him his last rites. But, guess what? Colonel Johnson was right. It’s because he didn’t let the fear get into his head that the BLT exists, in part.
Good work, tomato bro.
Fear, although valuable, often holds us back from learning things, trying things, and experiencing things that allow our worlds to be expanded. We think it is still saving us, keeping us alive, but often it is just shackling our experience and keeping up from living the life that will bring us the most fulfillment.
Think about this. I’ll bet there is something in your life right now that you’ve never done, but that you’ve always wanted to do. Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn how to make really good sushi. Maybe you want to get married. Maybe you want to organize a parade. I don’t know your life. But there is a reason that you’ve haven’t done that thing. And whatever the reason is that you’re explaining to me in your head, I’m guessing it boils down to one word: fear.
Fear of failure. Fear of what people will think. Fear of success. Fear of financial ruin. Fear of making the wrong choice. Fear, fear, fear, fear.
Fear is what is keeping you from taking the next step in your progression. All of those fears? They aren’t real.
I know you’re arguing with me right now. “If I do X, I’ll lose my job, Willow. That’s a real fear.” But is it? If you take the next step on your path, choosing faith instead of fear, what is the worst that can happen? You lose a job you don’t really love? You have to work at McDonald’s? You starve to death and die? I mean, it’s possible that one of those things will happen, but there is a lot of power in faithful action. Action that is determined by a movement away from fear and towards the belief that there is a bigger, higher, and happier plan for your life.
So, what do you fear to do/try/think/say/imagine? Is the fear helping you to be a more fulfilled human? If not, it is keeping you from your ultimate destiny and the fear needs to be drop-kicked to the curb.
How Do You Get Rid of Fear?
Well, the best solution for any poison is an antidote. In this case, the antidote for fear is belief.
Afraid of performing in front of people? Believe that failure is not the end of the world.
Afraid of spiders? Believe that spiders are valuable creatures who just want to be left alone, like you.
Afraid of pursuing your dream? Believe that your dream is uniquely designed to help you find joy.
Afraid of saying what you think? Believe that what you have to say is not only valuable, but necessary for your growth and the growth of those around you. The lesson here is simple:
Learn more. Do more. Live more.
Let go of your addiction to fear and just see how far you go. The world needs whatever you have hiding behind all those false beliefs and fake roadblocks. The you that can make a real difference can’t do its job if it’s steeped in worries.
Whatever it is that you’re afraid of, there is a lesson waiting for you to learn it. Take a step towards faith and do the thing you don’t think you can do. You’ll be amazed to find that God has been waiting for you to take that step this whole time, and has planned something more incredible than you could ever imagine.
Or maybe He just wants to give you a high-five.
But even if He doesn’t (yet), a life without fear is its own reward. With every new adventure you take on and every fear that you face, you become stronger, more resilient, and happier. Losing fear is the first step to finding yourself and taking your rightful place in this awesome sandbox of a world.