Fearlessness is total bullshit.
There. I said it.
I have yet to meet someone who is fearless. If they claim to be, well, they’re either hiding it, or sleepwalking through life.
And here’s a confession: I nearly cringe when someone calls me “fearless.”
And another: I’m scared all the time.
But I’ve taken that to mean something awesome is on the horizon. I take it as a signpost: adventure ahead. Fear is inevitable if I am moving forward. Period.
I don’t want to be fearless! I think our constant striving to be fearless is a big ol’ waste of time. Let’s focus our energy on better projects- like being brave!
I’d rather be brave than fearless.
Fear lets me know I’m alive.
Fear informs me.
Fear tells me that I am moving.
If I am never scared, I am probably playing way too safe. I am probably just existing. I am likely not adventuring in any way.
Fear is my teacher. Fear is my friend. It means well. It protects me when it needs to, by sounding alarms and manifesting signals and messages in my body and mind.
Yes, it sometimes gets unruly. Sometimes it’s completely unreasonable. It can keep me up at night, if I let it. But it means me no harm.
Its only intention is to protect me.
Then why does fear get such a bad rap? Why does it have such a lousy reputation?
Because sometimes, unfortunately, we give fear far too much power in our lives.
We let fear make our decisions.
We shut down our gut feelings.
We disconnect from our true desires.
We disengage from life because the vulnerability that fear requires is too intense.
Think of fear as your back-seat driver. It pipes up if your turns are too sharp, if it thinks you’re driving too fast, going the wrong way, or not abiding by the ever-so-boring rules of the road. And sometimes, even the most annoying of back-seat drivers have a point. But we don’t need to let them take the wheel. We don’t need to relinquish the driver’s seat. Because what fear really wants to do is pull over, park and stay put. It’s just safer that way.
But you and I, my friend, we have places to go, people to see, things to do, a world to change.
So, we’ll let fear be the back seat driver, we’ll listen when we need to (okay, maybe I WAS going WAY over the speed limit…) but we gotta keep driving.
So let’s ease up on Fear. Fear is not the bad guy.
The simple truth is, we are our own saboteur when we allow fear to run the show.
When we stay when we need to go. When we say yes when we mean no. When we quit because it gets too scary. When we never start because its already too scary.
This notion of fearlessness to me feels like a sort of zombie-like state to be in… a life with no fear? Sounds like a terribly boring time. I’ll take fear, thank you very much, and I’ll continue to cultivate my courage by taking brave steps, by continuing to risk in life, in love, in my work, in my art, in relationships.
This is my mantra: Fear, I hear you. Thanks for your concern. But I’m doing it anyway.
Originally published April 2014, as “Fearlessness is Bullshit”.