As I mentioned in my previous post, I am afraid of failing with this project. And it is not just some irrational, theoretical fear. It is based on lots of previous experiences. I tried to keep a spiritual journal in 2017 and failed miserably as I started to write fewer and fewer entries. But as I worry about failure, as I am fearful I will fail, I am also determined to hold myself in compassion. The world won’t end if I don’t complete a Blog entry. It will be more of an internal disappointment, as developing greater discipline is important to me, and writing itself is life-giving to me.
Fear is many things. It is: anxiousness, trepidation, terror, fright, alarm, panic, dread and many more feelings. It is a basic human emotion. I categorically reject the notion that we should not be fearful, that we should rid fear from our lives or try to rise above fear. It is OKAY to feel fear. We would lose a part of our humanity if we did not feel fear. Being fearful is a part of who we are. Fear is not something I wish to eliminate from my life. And I couldn’t even if I wanted to. The “no fear” mantra is patently ridiculous in my view. Fear can be a great teacher. We can learn from fear. We need to listen to what it is telling us. Fear could potentially save our lives, or at least promote actions that make us vigilant about the situations we face on this journey called life.
It’s not having the fear in and of itself, it’s what you do with it. Fear becomes an obstacle if we allow it to stop us. As mentioned, I am fearful about this blog and the regular completion of entries. However, I am trying to not let the fear stop me. I can work through the fear, acknowledge it, but not let it deter me from my goals. It is certainly true that we can become a prisoner to fear. It can be all-encompassing and can paralyze. It can make us indecisive. And we must respond to our own fear and the fear of others with great compassion and understanding, even if we think their fear is irrational. Not all fear makes sense. But feelings are feelings and we must honor and validate people’s feelings and especially honor our own feelings.
I am afraid when people make overtly bigoted remarks. I often am not sure how to proceed. As someone dedicated to social justice, I feel a need to respond and not let it go. As some who fears confrontation, I do not want to hurt the person’s feelings, make them defensive or angry or make them shut down. There is no easy answer to these situations. When someone is confronted, called out or called in, they may respond with fear themselves. It is tempting to lash out, but ideally there should be compassion for both parties. Often the person making the offending remark is doing it without malice. This is not to excuse it, but to humanize the person who says something problematic.
Fear is such an important topic, including in the context of my own life, that it needs two entries. Tomorrow I will write about fear and queerness, as being queer in and of itself raises a lot of issues of fear. In summation, own your fear. You are human and have a right to be fearful. But if it stands in the way of your goals or dreams, try to work through the fear. Not conquer it, but feel your power and attempt to do what you need to do in the face of the fear.