Top 10: Abolishing Fear

New Orleans, LA. 2018.

It’s 2019. Spooky is available in all forms. It can arrive to you through your headphones a la Billie Eilish, on the silver screen per Wednesday Addams, or in the privacy of your very own home via American Horror Story: The Alarmingly Addictive Nightmare. No matter the flavor, we all love that extra rush of unfamiliarity.

Lucky for us; haunting, visceral fear is delivered to us on any media platform at virtually any time of day – eroding markets, wicked policy developments, and rejection from a trusted lover (just to name a few). Any associated anxieties cast their shadows upon our general well-being each day. This can become incredibly exhausting. Plus, we’ve all got better things to do – like dominate a board game, a dancefloor, or a new dinner recipe!

Alas, it’s almost Halloween szn, and we deserve to be delivered from our fears. So, I’ll share some of the scariest lessons I’ve learned so that you may reserve your fear for more fun things; like roller-coasters and haunted houses. Help us, Tom Cruise!

Continue reading to discover the Top 10 fears I’ve overcome in recent years. Feel free to laugh at my pain. Definitely laugh at my jokes.

Asking for what I want. I know what restaurants I like, I know what music I like, I know what movies I like, I know what hobbies I like, etc. I haven’t always had such a strong sense of self. It would be a discredit to me, my friends, and my partners if I didn’t offer my intimate preferences when warranted. When we display this confidence and steadfastness, we encourage our partners to be honest just the same. We have the most powerful interactions when our eyes are sparkling – so, why wouldn’t we ask for those exact things? Future Husband – I love McDonald’s Diet Coke, soulful music, roses, and Emerald jewels 🙂

Being vulnerable. I was the quiet kid in class. I was the quiet kid in my family. I was the kid that would entertain myself on the playground. In trying times, I’d cry silently and feel defeated when no one noticed. I’ve come a long way from that reserved place. I slowly learned I was betraying myself by acting as a mystery. Now, I’m unafraid of letting someone know how I’m feeling; whether it is absolutely smitten, somewhat uncomfortable, or incredibly sad. I’m a certified crybaby, even still. We don’t always receive compassion in return, yet – it’s essential that we do it anyway. That way, you can find comfort in your truest self when the pieces fall back together. They always do.

Dancing like everyone is watching. When I flash back to middle school snowball dances, I would have never thought I’d approach the dance-floor the way I do today. It wasn’t until college when I bonded with some bad*ss women and discovered the rhythm buried deep inside. Fast forward to today, you cannot stop me from breaking it down to Ginuwine’s Pony. Dance allows you to express any range of emotions; bouncing around to pop hits, grinding out to R&B, and twirling to a delicate Waltz. When you dance like everyone’s watching, you empower others to abandon fear and do the same.

Standing up for something/someone. Around the time that I figured there was no way I was going to fool everyone into loving me, I decided that I would at least stand up for what I understood to be right. Whether at stow-away church camp, the girl’s high-school locker-room, or at the office; I never tolerate disrespect towards an innocent party. For the same reason, I have learned to avoid demonizing partners to my friends and family. When you are in love, you do not subject your partner to judgment, exclusion, or torment. Allowing such behavior is unacceptable, and compromises the foundation of any relationship – no matter how strong. We must be confident, honest, and vulnerable enough to resist this temptation (especially with our closest friends). Love is kind, but it isn’t weak. Bullying is so 2000 and late.

Establishing boundaries. In her flawless anthem Codependent No More, Melody Beattie explains “we don’t have to take other people’s behaviors as reflections of our self-worth. Each person is responsible for his or her behavior [and,] the only person you can now or ever change is yourself. The only person that it is your business to control is yourself”. Once we accept that we cannot control another’s thoughts, emotions, reactions, or values; we learn that we must establish healthy boundaries and observe from a distance. When our loved ones react with powerful, trauma-laced responses, we can offer our love and support – but we cannot own their behavior. We cannot take responsibility for managing their emotions and well being. This standard means we must also own our personal bullsh*t, and recognize it is no one’s job to fix us or keep us happy. When this boundary is solidified, we stunt contempt and resentment from blooming. Instead, we are enabled to play on the same team. The Packers, that is.

Relinquishing pride. I’ve certainly had my fair share of prideful encounters in my lifetime. When given the opportunity, I’d respond to rejection with a doubled-down wrath. In high-school, I quickly learned that pride didn’t substitute loneliness. All pride really does is build a barrier between your inner self and the outside world. I’d rather let someone know exactly how I feel, try my best to explain any misunderstandings, and reveal any underlying intentions instead of forgoing the opportunity to be seen. I do not forsake any chance to build a stronger bond with someone that I love (even if I am a day late). I have been absolutely humbled by the number of times these vulnerable moments have been abused and discarded, but HEY! Maybe I’m a self-masochist. And y’all are savages. I did always love the DaVinci Code, anyway.

Asking for help. I struggle with identifying the moments that I need help. I struggle with remembering that those that love me would not be burdened by a request for some extra TLC. I often find myself wishing someone would have comforted me through a panic attack, only to realize they weren’t aware of it’s presence. I’m working on this, and it’s not easy. I still remember my first therapy session nearly two years ago – and how I figured I’d just filter all the ugly stories out of the roster. Once I realized that would just be me playing my own damn self, I decided to grow a pair and accept the help I was paying so handsomely for. Now, if that isn’t a metaphor for life…

(Trying to) make people laugh. It is shameful. I will use and abuse all dark, inappropriate, and gratuitous humor alike just to brighten your day. I’ll share wicked memes, offer ridiculous impressions, tackle you to the floor, and play with my food just to get you to like me a little bit more. I’ll touch your drumset. I’ll invite an unsuspecting stranger into our conversation. And, if you don’t laugh, I’ll just think about it every night for the rest of my life. At least I’m out here trying.

Forgiving someone. I used to fear forgiveness. If I held a grudge, I felt that it meant that I didn’t agree with how someone treated me. It meant I was going to be protected from it happening again. I protected my worth by stonewalling. Since then, I’ve recognized forgiveness is one of the most powerful things in the world. When you move forward in this way; you relinquish the pain. You release it’s hold on your brain. You allow someone the opportunity to do better. We all deserve that chance.

Regret. We know, there’s a bad tattoo joke here. But really, what’s a regret? A way to say “wish I didn’t do that”? In a prideful way, at that? The truth is, regret is pure, shameful darkness. If you can trust in your vulnerability, honesty, and your ability to love another; you can trust that you were doing the right thing. And if you look dumb, you only look dumb to the people that never cared about you anyway. #harshfax

Overcoming these fears required a tolerance for lots of disappointment, heartache, and some pretty close attempts on my self-worth. When you consider similar lessons in your own experience, there is no doubt that the uncomfortable pieces were worth the reward. Growing into our most authentic selves will only continue to refine our surroundings.

Those that truly love and support us will eagerly indulge in the opportunities to communicate, celebrate, and discover the parts of us that are dying to surface. They won’t seek to misunderstand us.

Life is an adventure, and intermittent failure is certain. We have to lend ourselves some grace in order to keep moving forward. We’re kind, we’re smart, we’re important – and we deserve some fun loving, damnit!

I encourage you to take a few moments to yourself to consider all of the fears you’ve overcome this year. And, if you’re feeling super introspective, work towards identifying what your own ‘personal hell’ entails so that you may leverage your strengths and vulnerabilities to keep yourself alert and equipped to deal once that hellish moment arrives. Knowledge is power, power is self-awareness, and that is fear’s greatest adversary.

Most importantly, great music always keeps the fear at bay. Just ask Jimmy Fallon about his Taxi days. Or, click here for an amazing autumn evening playlist. Either way, either way.

“You can choose comfort, or you can choose courage. You cannot have both.”

Brene Brown.