Monday, May 14, 2012

How To Embrace Your Fears In Order To Grow

by Sarah Davis 

There is no easy way to grow as a human being.  No matter how easy some people make growth look, it requires challenging yourself and placing yourself in new situations that you often don't know if you'll succeed in. Often times, these situations can be terrifying or just really uncomfortable. (Think, how terrified you are before skydiving and how amazing you feel afterwards). As you really begin to grow, you can see that your fear isn't a burden, it's actually a way to pinpoint where your biggest opportunities lie. I have personally heard a lot of self-help gurus say this, but it never made a lot of sense until I actually started doing it (doing things that I was scared of in order for me to grow and in order for my blog to grow.)

People say that succeeding in life involves luck, but really, it involves one thing.  Facing your fear.  Many, many people have everything they need to be successful: a great degree, a family with connections, a way with words, a talent that is extraordinary, etc.  But, if they never have the guts to put those talents out there, it doesn't really matter. I grew up around a lot of people with money.  I never had a lot of money, I never went to an Ivy-League school, but I knew a lot of people who did.  For a LONG time, I would think, "You can really do anything if you have a lot of money." But, I can honestly say now (from an enlightened state of mind), that you can really do anything if you are willing to face your fears.  Money is just another circumstance that might or might not help you be successful, but it does not guarantee it.   

As some of you might know, I struggled with anxiety when I was younger and tried to avoid public speaking in every capacity because it scared me (because I had a speech disorder when I was younger and didn't want ANYONE to think I was anything less than perfect).  I thought there was some other way around growing beyond this, other than actually learning how to speak up.  I was scared to make important phone calls, I didn't want to go to class (in college), I didn't want to do anything because all of it required speaking.  I would never challenge myself and I found myself very frustrated because when I avoided all things that scared me, I avoided everything good about life and I felt dead on the inside. 

Even as I got over my speech disorder and anxiety disorder, I learned that I was still scared to do the things that scared me before.  I just did all of it, even if I was scared. many doors opened. Now, I have to do so much speaking and so much on my own that I don't know how I ever thought I could get through life without it.  But, the value of learning that I had to push myself into these situations is something that we all have to face. When I sat down to write a book about my own speech disorder struggles, it was this moment where I realized that opening up about it was the biggest fear I had in life and here I was using it to potentially be my life's work. 

I never wanted to accept that I couldn't live my life like everyone else did, so I overcompensated in my writing. Once people began to tell me I was good at writing, it gave me the confidence to stand up to my own fears of public speaking.  And, once I began pushing through my own fears, so many doors began to open and continue to open to this current day.  Where your fear is, your opportunity is.  You have to push on through, even though you're aware you're scared.  Everyone has something that sets them back.  Other people might not understand it, but it's there.  Everyone has a journey that requires overcoming some fear.  

Maybe you're not afraid of public speaking, maybe you're afraid of dating, or even doing something like going to see a movie alone, or doing anything alone. No matter who you are, there is probably something that you want to do and something that you think is holding you back. It's important to challenge yourself to remind yourself that in fact, nothing is setting you back. It's only your fears.  If you're not feeling scared often enough, maybe it's time to start doing more challenging things. Remember, challenging yourself is how you grow. It might even be something little, but if it is challenging you, it is a good thing. 

The next time you feel scared, smile because you're not weak, you're growing.  And remember, a successful individual is someone who faces their fear, it is never someone who has NO fear.  They might even have more fears than you, they have just faced more of them.  

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