When I logged onto Facebook this past Monday morning I had two new messages from some IRL (in-real-life) friends. Although these friends didn’t know of each other, they were both sending messages with the same sentiments.
They were both afraid.
When reading their messages about why they were afraid, it came down to the fact that both of these friends were about to make a major change personally and/or professionally. Their fear was simple; they didn’t know what was on the other side of that change. I found myself dishing out advice to them that felt so close to home, I stopped to make sure the fears I read were actually theirs and not mine.
I was reassuring both of these friends about the importance of taking risks and putting yourself outside of what you know in order to become stronger, wiser and self-aware.
I had a moment of introspection when reassuring them about their fears. I stopped and asked myself,
“What am I afraid of?”
I scanned my brain and realized there wasn’t just one thing I was afraid of. I am afraid of a lot, actually.
Despite realizing that I was afraid of a lot of things I also observed that the fear was not mutually exclusive from the confidence and sense of adventure I felt. In all the situations that I felt afraid, there were also signs of confidence that blossomed from conquering that fear. Being afraid has been really important in making me continue to expand my boundaries of what I think is possible.
Because the true opposite of being afraid is not confidence but complacency. I’ve been afraid because I am not complacent. I am afraid a lot not because I am weak but because I am constantly growing; mentally, physically, and emotionally.
Fear is adaptive. When psychologists studied people who feared water, they found that the further away you lived from the ocean, the more likely you were to fear it. The ocean never did anything to these people to make them afraid of it. It was just simply far away.
Are my fears and the fears of my friends as adaptive as those who fear the ocean? Are we living far away from what we are afraid of, therefore growing our fear?
There’s only one way to find out.
Time to put on my bathing suit and head to the ocean.