So often you hear people talk of “conquering fear” – as if it were a foe to be slain, or a beast to be defeated, or simply a body, with a life, that expires like all others.
But fear isn’t something to be conquered at all. It isn’t something killed. It isn’t anything at all. It isn’t relevant at all.
“Oh, right. This feeling…”
I went out with my friends a few days ago, to do pretty much what we always do – have fun being awkward, weird, and hilarious. And, obviously, to chat girls.
Sue us. We’re young.
And unlike my normal nights out, I had actually had a pretty freaking crappy night in that area. I mean, it was fun, of course. We always have fun.
But I haven’t been out much recently due to some other stuff, and well…I was rusty or something. Very rusty, maybe. And so I just wasn’t my normal awesome and beautifully charming dude. And after a couple not legit ones, that old sensation of kinda feeling lame, and nervous, and unworthy crept back.
Like “What the fuck?”
Like “Oh, right…This feeling…”
The sadness. And feeling down. And feeling weird.
…it doesn’t matter to me.
Cause I know that every night’s different. Some better than others. Some, even, a lot worse than others. And over the course of a hundred or so nights out a year that kinda stuff happens, as does it’s opposite. Because like all things, it’s a process, a journey. And every new experience, even the bad ones, add to my knowledge and ability.
I know it, and I trust in it.
It’s no big deal. And tomorrow I’ll be back to my more awesome self I’m sure.
But again, it had been awhile, and so at the time, I was kinda angry. I was frustrated. And I woke up the next day still pretty pissed, still annoyed at how hesitant I had been, that a bit of the nervousness that I had once had for so much of my life had been there at all, had returned even in that small amount.
“What right did it have to be there?” I thought.
“I mean, what the fuck! I’ve put my work in. I’ve done all I should have. I’ve conquered it. Doesn’t it know that?”
The kinda things you think, without actually thinking it.
The kinda things you convince yourself after some successes – some epic successes – after going so long without ever feeling as you once did, or being as you once were.
As if after X amount of time, or Y amount of times “beating” that fear, you’ve killed it entirely. For good. For ever.
But that’s so ridiculous, really. It’s stupid even.
…was I so surprised to be a little nervous or anxious? Why was I shocked and pissed that those old fears had returned?
What else should I have expected after so long away? What reason did I have to care at all?
Was I expecting a life without fears, with no anxiety towards anything, simply because I had done this before; simply because it had been so effortless as recently as a few weeks ago?
It just doesn’t work that way.
Fear isn’t “conquered”. It isn’t defeated. It isn’t killed. It’s never eliminated.
It’s simply ones reaction to a situation – independent of your past experiences, and experiences with it. Independent of what you’ve done, or how far you’ve come.
It’s simply an emotion. And nothing more.
Not the definition of who or what you are. Not the measure by which you determine how far you’ve come, or how far you still have yet to go.
It doesn’t define you.
That it’s there means nothing.
That it remains means nothing.
Cause maybe fear is necessary in life. Maybe it isn’t. But mostly, it just doesn’t matter. It’s something that is always there in some form, to some degree, in some part of your life – a natural and normal thing in life then. No different than gravity or death, and no more useful a thing to fight against than either.
It’s just a background noise. Just something you know of, but need not pay heed to – like the clatter and din of a construction site, muted by the headphones in your ears as you sit and watch, consumed in your own enjoyment, and completely oblivious to the noise that would drive most others mad.
Because you can’t hear it anyway.
Because it just…doesn’t…matter.
And so you can…
…through your actions and your experiences – reduce to near nothing your fear of any one thing to which those efforts are directed. You can desensitize yourself to a degree where the fear becomes largely removed from whatever it is that so scares you now.
You can end your fear of any particular thing.
But you cannot end fear itself.
Cause though that one fear is “defeated” (to the greatest degree any fear can truly be “defeated”), fear itself will remain.
Fear itself will always remain.
Because there will continue to be some fear some where in your life.
Because fear is never eliminated. It isn’t “conquered”. It’s not “healed”.
It’s like matter. It isn’t destroyed. It just transforms. It just goes elsewhere – to some other thing in your life, to some other part of your life, to some other experience that may still be unknown to you.
It moves on from you as you move on from it – as you mature and gain new experiences and lessen old fears; as you find new goals, new desires, and new horizons.
And it is there your fear will rest…at the place of your next goal or vision, at the frontier of your newest dreams and purpose – in whatever thing you have desire of but no experience in, and so don’t know the way, or the how, or what may come of it.
And so you may “conquer” your fear of this thing, whatever that is to you and whatever that means to you, but that does not rid you of fear of all things. Nor will it ever.
There will always be some new frontier to journey, and some new thing worthy of your fear.
The point, then…
…is not to rid yourself of fear, but to learn how to act with it anyway; to do whatever is necessary despite whatever scares you; to do it because you need to, and not avoid it simply because you want to.
And so I woke up pissed that I had been kinda anxious the night before where previously I wasn’t. I was pissed that it was there at all.
But my frustration was misguided.
Because the only thing worth being pissed about was that I noticed it at all; that I let it affect me at all…
Share and comment below. Don’t let the fear stop you. Unless it has a weapon.