Fear is to be expected. It’s normal to be afraid, a part of life, just like love or happiness. It’s a feeling we all experience in different moments.
In this context, I’m talking about fear in terms of being a creator, an artist, a maker. Not life and death situations, but for an individual that is trying to do something meaningful with their life.
From this perspective, fear is what stands between progress and stagnation. It’s how we handle fear, how we react to it, that is different from person to person. Cus D’Amato, the legendary trainer of Mike Tyson, explains fear perfectly:
“The hero and the coward both feel the same thing, but the hero uses his fear, projects it onto his opponent, while the coward runs. It’s the same thing, fear, but it’s what you do with it that matters.” – Cus D’Amato”
The analogy of the arena is a great way to think about fear. You’re getting into the ring with an opponent. One that you have to fight repeatedly throughout life. One that will never really go away.
The choice is simple: either you face it or you run from it. Either you punch it in the mouth or let it hold you back forever. Sometimes you’ll win, sometimes you’ll lose, but you should never stop showing up. You should never stop facing your fears because it is these stands that determine your ability to create. To face the unknown, the doubts, and the fears are what makes your work worth doing. And these confrontations never end.
Fear will be waiting in the arena, day after day, seeing if you are up to the task of beating it. And beat it you must. We all need to get comfortable with fear because it’s one of life’s constants. It’s never going away.
It’s there whenever you take a chance and bet on yourself. It’s there when you share your experiences with the world and open yourself to criticism It’s there when you face uncertainty and negativity. It’s always there. And that’s a good thing. Facing fear is one of the most important things you can do. Here’s why.
Fear means you’re on to something.
Fear is, if anything else, an indicator that you’re on the right track. That you’re doing something important, something worth fighting for. Chasing your fear can lead you to incredible places and teach you important lessons.
Fear keeps you humble.
When you start to get too sure of yourself, when you think you can do no wrong, is when you’re most susceptible to failure. It’s also when you have no fear. In this way, fear keeps you in check. It makes sure you don’t get overconfident.
Fear forces you to think.
Sometimes, our fears can be figments of our imagination. Made up, overblown alternate realities that are unlikely to come to fruition. Such groundless fears can be the easiest to overcome because if you truly think them through, you’ll notice the mirage you’ve constructed. Fear can be an indicator to unpack the reality of a situation.
We suffer more often in imagination than in reality.Seneca
We all need fear, but we can’t let it consume us. We can’t let it stop us from taking action. Fear is a worthy partner that is always along for the ride but don’t let it become a shackle. The key in this regard is to get comfortable with fear. The more we face it, fight it, defeat it, the better we get at dealing with it.
There are many things in life that we can’t control, but facing our fears is one that we can. We can confront our fears head on and deal with them. It’s not easy, but it is important. It reminds me of a speech by Thomas Jefferson, about the man in the arena:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
Facing your fears is a worthy endeavor, no matter the outcome. It is a way to live life to the fullest. Don’t hide from your fears, stand up to them.