Fear & The Importance Of Taking Risks

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Hey everyone, happy Sunday! What’s everyone up to this fine day? Me, I’ve been writing all weekend, so not much to report on my end. Although I did go to the theatre during the week and see Motown the musical. It was incredible! If you’re in London and haven’t seen it yet, I highly recommend.

I love doing things like that by myself. Going to the movies or the theatre. No one to interrupt me during an important scene (we all know the type) and because I do a lot of activities on my own, I get a lot of comments from people saying how brave I am and they wish they could do the same but are too afraid. So for this post I wanted to talk about fear. That tiny four letter word, seemingly insignificant when written on a piece of paper, yet in reality, the weight behind it is causing our thoughts and emotions to hinder our progress in life.

Fear… when I let it hold me back

Over the years I have been in positions where time and time again, I have let fear hold me back. I remember when I was too afraid to wear a particular outfit for fear someone would think I looked funny. Or that time I didn’t go to the gym because I was worried people would judge me for using a machine incorrectly. Not to mention the times I put of travel to certain countries for fear that it was unsafe. And although there’s some truth to that last one in parts of the world, the build up of worry in my mind always escalated my fear more than it needed to be. 

After missing out on various opportunities and experiences, and regretting not doing this or that (or buying that red lip colour knowing it suited me but would make me stand out), it dawned on me that I was only living half a life. I was letting fear take hold of the other half and I wasn’t allowing myself to be the person I truly wanted to be. I wasn’t experiencing the things that fuelled my soul and what truly made me happy. So one day I told myself, enough is enough. I can either concur my fears, or let me fears concur me. I chose the latter.

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Fear… acknowledging, accepting & rationalising it

Now when it comes down to it, there’s nothing wrong with having fear. It’s there when it needs to be, alerting us to danger, and also giving us a unique opportunity to trust in our own strength. And when I think about it, I don’t think fear every truly goes away. Well, not entirely anyway.

It’s definitely still present in me whenever I travel to a new destination. I begin to worry about the little things, like walking around with a camera strapped around my neck, and then my mind starts creating potential scenarios where I’ll be identified as a tourist and be targeted for theft or unwanted attention.

So over the years, what I’ve come to learn to do, is acknowledged my fear, accept it and rationalise it. When I get that nauseous feeling in the pit of my stomach and my heart rate starts to quicken, I ask myself where is the fear coming from? Is it based on something I’ve heard in the media or from a friend? Is it from past experience? Is it related to social situations and judgement from others, or is it an actual life treating situation. If my fears aren’t life threatening, then I take a deep breath, push those nerves and insecurities down, and take control of the situation. I give myself an internal pep talk and force my way through that first barrier (which is my mind creating exaggerated scenarios). Once that first barrier is broken, the rest is easy as I feel my fear slipping away.

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Fear… then & now

The unknown is a scary thing. Whether it’s in love, career, family life, or a new hobby we’re taking up. But the truth is, you have to be willing to face fear and take risks if you want the opportunity to see what’s on the other side. It’s a much higher risk to stay exactly where you are, never pushing the boundaries of yourself or your life.

When I first arrived in London two years ago, I had the exact same fear of being identified as a tourist and being targeted as I walked the streets, camera in hand, taking pictures of Big Ben and other iconic landmarks. But now that I’ve been living in London for a solid amount of time, I don’t think twice about taking my camera out amongst a crowd of strangers. And then I though, why is that? Walking around today is technically no safer than when I first arrived, it’s only because London is no longer foreign to me and I know what to expect, that my fear is non-existent.

This also applied to my dance classes that I’ve come to know and love (and literally couldn’t imagine my life without). At first, I was terrified. Would I be dancing alongside professionals? (even though the class said beginners), would I be able to keep up? would I remember the steps? The unknown scared the crap out of me. But after a few classes, it became familiar to me and my fear completely disappeared. And I realised, the unknown was the main driver of my fear.

Applying the mindset I mentioned earlier about acknowledging, accepting & rationalising my fear with everything I do, has changed my life significantly. I’m no longer the woman who says no because she’s afraid, I’m the woman that says YES and proves to herself, she can do it. I refuse to let fear control me. Unless it’s regarding spiders, then I’m running away as far as I can! That fear I’m still working on.

I live everyday with no regrets, facing fear head on, overcoming it with the strength I’ve grown to know I have. It’s not always easy, but it’s absolutely doable. So whatever your fear is, take a deep breath and shut it down. Let your strength always be bigger than your fear.

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