Facing the Fear

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I’ve always relished the beginning of the school year, even as an adult. I feel like it provides a new start similar to the New Year. This year, in particular, as my daughter went to college, I entered the school year with an even stronger feeling that a new chapter would emerge. I decided to lean into the idea that this year would bring fresh opportunities, especially with respect to my boys. It didn’t take long for two new proposals to crop up. One in the realm of church popped into my head during a meeting, and the other one came from school via a teacher’s request three weeks in. My first reaction to both was “that was fast.” And my second was “oh-no.”

Immediately, I felt resistance. I hadn’t expected either of the opportunities; both truly came out of the blue. And so, I wasn’t sure I wanted to accept the options. What would they entail? Would I be too busy if I took on the duties? I needed to pray about the prospects before I moved forward. As is my habit, I started writing in my prayer journal, which is a stream of consciousness exercise for me. I write what’s on my heart and mind without filtering so that I can truly express my feelings to God. This process also often reveals what I’m truly worried about. 

That is exactly what happened in this instance. I wrote about serving the church in a new capacity and said, “I worry that I won’t be good at it.” With respect to volunteering in a new role at school, I wrote “But I admit I am scared to do it. Can I do this right?” My concerns boiled down to fear. Fear that I wouldn’t measure up if I stepped outside of my comfort zone. That I would fall flat on my face. That I would embarrass my kids if I failed. That other people would complain about me behind my back. 

Once I identified fear as the root of my reluctance, I felt more at ease. I’m intimately familiar with fear and anxiety. I don’t like to fail, which makes me risk adverse. For those acquainted with the Enneagram personality types, I am a textbook Six who seeks safety and security and anticipates the worst possible outcomes. So, when I saw my concerns in black and white and realized my worries were based on fear, I thought, of course. And yet, even though I often default to fear, I needed to go through the process of prayer and analysis to understand why I felt hesitant. 

I’ve decided to pursue both new opportunities. I didn’t see them coming, but I’m grateful for them. While my fears will not disappear completely, I’ve learned that for me, fear can hold me back unnecessarily from exciting pursuits if I allow it. I recognize that being open to the possibilities without letting fear overwhelm me will be a lifelong struggle for me, but one well worth fighting.  

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