When I told you yesterday that I’m currently book-less, that was a half-truth. I may not be reading a book at the moment, but I am listening to one: Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert, author of the wildly successful Eat, Pray, Love.
Whenever I’m reading (or audiobooking, as it were), I make notes. In margins, on notebooks, in my head, on a napkin. With each new book I consume, I fall deeper in love with words and the infinite number of beautiful ways they can be placed together.
Talk about a word nerd.
One Big Magic passage in particular jumped out at me, so much so that I had to rewind the book twice to make sure I got the phrasing right:
Your fear is boring. I can say this with all honesty and authority, because I know for a fact that my fear is the most boring thing about me. This is especially true when it comes to living a life of creativity. Fear is boring, because fear only ever has one thing to say to us, and that thing is: “STOP!”
Furthermore, the writing prompt I received today as part of the daily #my500words e-mail blast was about fear. It seems the universe is trying to tell me something.
Not to be a basic bitch throwing feel-good quotes all over the Internet like confetti or anything, but here’s a feel-good quote (because screw it – I love confetti):
Sometimes the fear won’t go away, so you’ll have to do it afraid.
Why share this? Because it doesn’t matter whether you, like Gilbert, find fear boring or whether you find it enigmatic or captivating; if you find it, that means it’s still there. When fear tells you to “STOP!” – as its apt to do – you don’t always have the option to simply wish it away; sometimes, you need to keep running into the wind with fear a wet blanket wrapped tight around you. You’ll get to your destination, but you’ll probably catch a cold along the way.
A few weeks ago, my friend Ashlyn suggested I answer this question on the blog: “How’d you end up pursuing your love of writing for a career?”
My response: The fear of failing as a writer plagued me for years. I tried to wait it out, tried to will it into submission, but the cat always came back. After a while, I realized it was futile to keep resisting this fear… so I did it afraid. I went in afraid.
Am I still afraid? Absolutely – every single day! But I think there’s something very humbling and fundamentally human about acknowledging your fears and persevering anyway. Fear will try to stop you at every turn: stop you from traveling. From speaking up. From smiling. From laughing. From creating. From loving.
Do it afraid, or else you might never learn what’s on the other side of that fear.