Facing Down Fear - Hope For The New Year

Many people, including myself, experienced a good deal of fear in 2020.

From riots to Covid to isolation to lockdowns to remote learning and working to natural disasters to one crazy presidential election, there was always something coming around the curve to keep us off-balance.

In all honesty, though, I've lived with fear much longer than just this past year. In fact, it's hard to remember a time when fear wasn't motivating me in some manner or another.

It is a bit humbling to admit as someone who proclaims so fervently about HOPE, but it is true just the same. And I DO believe in HOPE. I believe the path forward is paved with it. I also recognize our paving equipment may need some annual maintenance. So here goes.

What Are We Afraid Of

This is almost impossible to answer because people process and express fear differently. Their life experiences also play a large role. Fear isn't always a bad thing, either. It is a protection mechanism. It helps guide certain decisions. It also motivates to inspire change.

Some have constant fear regarding financial issues and making ends meet. Others battle illness. The person how has a loved one struggling with addiction fears every unknown phone call.

Those with mental illness often experience highly irrational fears. And the people who love them often live in fear of THEM.

The root of fear is feeling out of control. That we are helpless and drifting around on a tiny raft during a raging storm. And the truth is, much of what happens (not all) in our lives is out of our direct control. Life happens, as they say. But our response to those happenings is COMPLETELY within our control. And that's where the key lies in living in fear and overcoming it.

I've come up with three universal fears and my thoughts on dealing with them. I'm no expert, mind you. I'm on a journey for answers myself. Maybe together we can all find strength.

Fear Of Judgment

Many people walk around in life boasting, "I don't care what ANYONE thinks of me." "I'll do whatever I want." "Their opinions don't matter." And most of the time those people are lying to themselves. Because whether we admit it or not, we do care what others think.

If we didn't, half the world wouldn't live their life on social media. They rack up 'likes' and comments and tally them at the end of the day to make sure they are still relevant and pleasing to those around them.

And the unfortunate events of bullying would be non-existent if we didn't care what people thought.

It is not a bad thing to wish to be liked and appreciated. It's a sign of community. We need each other. Acceptance is a comforting blanket in a very cold world. The problem comes when we take it too far.

The bottom line is, not everyone is going to like you (or me). We will be someone's unsweet tea in their corn syrup world. And that's OK. (Although if you know me, you know my tea rivals that of even McDonald's.) My point is, you will be fit into everyone's lifestyle. Nor should you want to.

The key here is to know and like yourself. Tall order, I know. But once you are cool with yourself, the opinions and judgments of others have less impact on your happiness.

Take stock of where you are. Improve in the areas YOU think important. Then take a deep breath and march into this world being proud of who you are and what you bring to the table. There are plenty of tables to go around. Don't expect everyone to eat at yours.

Fear Of Failure

This one strikes home to me more than the first one. I do have a fear of failure.

As a single mom most of my life, I've looked back and wondered did I fail my children. I wasn't able to provide a traditional, intact home. My marriages failed.

When I started Hope Boulevard I had such high hope and expectations for reaching and helping people. There have been many days when I have felt I failed at that as well.

I read an article recently that said you will never reach potential if you are not willing to be embarrassed. I'd never thought about things from that angle. The author suggested that until you completely put yourself out 'there', and risked being embarrassed, boo'ed, or worse, ignored, then you would never truly believe you had given it your all.

There are dozens of memes and quotes about no risk/no reward. You only fail when you don't try. One foot in front of the other until you make it. Learn from the mistakes. You know, you've read them too.

And I agree with all of them. The challenge is believing they apply to YOU when YOU are the one dealing with the loss, the setback, the failure.

You will not be the best at everything you do. The key is to do the best that YOU can do. If you truly do your best, then the result is not failure. It might be disappointing, or not what you envisioned, but never a failure. (Note to self.)

Fear Of Being Alone

This one really has a two-fold meaning.

There are those who do fear being alone in the relationship sense. They are compelled to jump from one relationship to another in order to avoid an empty feeling. The result is usually unpleasant and another loss.