It’s like that time I was standing in front of gate 17 trying to will myself to board the plane. It was headed for France where I had signed a contract to teach English for the upcoming school year.
As excited as I was for the weeks leading up to this moment, now all I felt was fear.
Terrifying, intoxicating, immobilizing fear.
I was scared of this new foreign country, scared of the culture, the people, the food, the customs. I was scared of standing in front of a classroom full of middle school students for 12 hours a week, seeing their blank faces staring back at me. I was scared of traveling by myself and getting lost in a new city without a cell phone or a friend to call.
I was scared of leaving my boyfriend of four years, fearing that our relationship would fall apart with the distance. I was scared of living by myself and leaving my family behind, thousands of miles away.
But most of all, I was scared of what I would learn about myself.
And that’s when I learned a super important life lesson (arguably the most important lesson ever):
The more scared you are of something, the more you know you have to do it. [CLICK TO TWEET]
Whatever you’re scared about right now, take that fear as a sign that you must take that step.
You must do it because, in your heart of hearts, your deepest soul, your innermost being, it’s what you truly want.
I mean, if this thing wasn’t so important to you, if you didn’t care at all, you wouldn’t be afraid.
You wouldn’t care if it never happened. You wouldn’t be crushed if you failed.
You’d be indifferent. You’d forget about it quickly and life would go on.
If you didn’t really want to write that book, you wouldn’t be scared to type out that final chapter. If you didn’t want to run that half-marathon so badly, you wouldn’t wince at the thought of not crossing the finish line. And if you didn’t crave a life of freedom and fulfillment on your own terms, you wouldn’t dread the thought of crunching the numbers in your bank account to see if it’s a real possibility.
Your fear is like an intuition-barometer.
It lets you know how important this thing is to you. It lets you know how much this thing will help you grow. How it will expand you and peel away another layer so you can become your most authentic self.
Fear tells us what we’re meant to do.
Most of the time, when we’re experiencing fear, we can find resistance nearby.
We avoid. We procrastinate. We make excuses.
The reason we feel this resistance? It’s because this thing, this project, this experience, it’s going to change us.
We’re scared of what this new version of ourselves might be like. We’re scared that we don’t deserve to be happy. We’re scared that maybe this change won’t be as life-changing as we’re expecting and we’ll be let down.
And the reality is that each of those fears could actually come true.
But the alternative of not going after this and facing our fears is staying exactly where we are. The alternative is not changing, not growing, not honoring ourselves and doing what we’re meant to do.
The good news is that when we’re surrounded by resistance, it means that there’s also a massive amount of love there too.
And love can get us through anything.
[If you want to dive deeper into the topics of resistance and fear, check of Steven Pressfield’s book, The War of Art. His ideas, coupled with my own experiences, inspired this post.]