Ep6 | The Other Sides Of Fear: A Monologue

Download MP3

You’ve probably heard the motivational words that “Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear.”

You’d think that just by hearing them, you’d be propelled into action in pursuit of your goals, because why would anybody want to stay on the same side that fear resides?

Although I can’t help but think...is it that I want to stay here or that fear itself, is preventing me from leaving?

I’m not usually one to look for excuses or play the blame game, but it’s an interesting thought that an invisible, intangible emotion can wield so much power over us, affecting the way we see ourselves, the world, the way we make decisions or decide not to decide.

This side of fear is not a fun place, yet it is rich with lessons and perhaps, ‘expositions’ – at least it has been for me these past few years.

I’ve never identified as someone really brazen or fearless as such, but looking back to my younger self, I recognise a kind of courage that is now missing from my life. I grieve it sometimes, but I also question whether or not that kind of shameless bravery was ever truly sustainable. ‘Shameless bravery’, what do I even mean by that?

Maybe it’s the kind of confidence I once exuded in my youth – even though self-consciousness has always been in my nature – I was once more willing to face the world, more open to presenting and announcing myself, unashamedly and courageously.

Perhaps that’s the beauty of being young, with our lack of inhibitions, our moxie and drive for attention whenever we might feel overlooked or underestimated. I miss such carefree days, but there is no doubt that I’ve learned a lot from them. No doubt that who I was then has shaped the me of today, even though lately, I feel more of the shame and less of the bravery.

I am wary of this turning into some kind of maudlin, hopeless tale lamenting my youth, so let’s get back on track to the issue at hand: Fear.

Certainly not a single one of us is immune to feeling fear, but we how manage this feeling certainly varies amongst us. There is personal fear, but also, as we have seen through the global crises of recent times, there is collective fear.

There are natural fears and developed fears, the rational and irrational.

I don’t feel the need to provide specific examples of fear, I guess I trust that if you're listening, you're well acquainted with the idea.

Fear is very personal.

It’s almost like an intimate relationship, a daily interaction you have with what you’re thinking, feeling and believing. Sometimes you directly engage with it, sometimes you intentionally distance yourself, sometimes you can co-exist with fear but still be strong enough to hold your ground in the face of its distractions and manipulations.

On the outset, we view fear as something which works against us, but as so many people throughout history have proven, fear has the capacity to work for us too.

It’s a multifaceted experience, a human experience.

I don’t have all the answers, but I have my experiences.

Most recently in my life, my dalliances with fear have led to great discouragement, anxiety and somewhat of a perpetual worry. Again, I resist the temptation to turn this episode into a sob story, but it’s important that I acknowledge what I have allowed fear to get away with.

If you’ve listened to the show Prologue, you’ll know that something which has sparked my interest in better understanding and re-building courage, was losing my job several years ago.

It happened in my thirtieth year on earth, the one that’s meant to be a memorable milestone for all the right reasons - when you finally come into your own as an adult, when everyone in your social circle expects you to have stability in your work, living situation and relationships. Some people dread the event of entering the third decade while others welcome it with open arms.

Personally, I wasn’t overly emotional about the occasion either way. After turning 21, every birthday became another ordinary day for me and ironically, I tend to shy away from the attention though history has documented my enjoyment in the spotlight.

My creative passions often require me to step into and desire that spotlight, but after a memorable thirtieth year for all the wrong reasons, I’ve been a little blinded and burned by the glow.

The thing I’ve discovered about confidence is that there are layers - you can survive for a good time wrapped in a confident-looking skin, but true, sustainable confidence is only found within. (How’s that for a bit of slam poetry?).

I had built a confidence in my mid-twenties that sustained me throughout my corporate career. It enabled me to get up in the mornings with optimism, to take pride in my physical appearance, to converse with intimidating people and attack my job with ambition and fortitude.

There were still bad days where stress would defeat me, where colleagues would spite me and clients would make me cry. But confidence would pick me back up and help me face another day. Confidence like a thin outer shell, strong enough in seasons of stillness, yet fragile amidst more forceful winds.

And life experiences eventually, broke this outer this shell of mine. Revealing more brokenness inside.

Cue the dramatics!

But seriously, how often are we not even aware of our fears? How hidden fear can be when the speed and impact of life around us so cleverly masks what we’re experiencing deep within?

That’s another side of fear – its ability to be inconspicuous as we go about our daily lives; which I suppose isn’t a horrible thing if we learn to function normally despite our inner turmoils.

At the end of the day, we can’t quite eradicate fear, only learn to overcome it, persist alongside it and re-direct it towards good means.

I’ve realised it’s in a state of inaction where fear becomes its most visible, most powerful – shrouding the mind, heart and soul with a foggy mist that dulls our senses to keep us at a standstill.

Without the ‘busyness’ of corporate life and the worldly distractions that accompany it, I found myself face-to-face with fears that had laid dormant – fears about uncertainty, the future, my place in the world. Fears about my employability, my social and financial status, my relationships.

After years of striving and climbing the literal and metaphorical ladder, I slipped and hit the bottom, where fear was waiting to greet me.

My natural instinct was to pretend it didn't exist - that by continuing to make myself busy, applying for new jobs and networking, I could escape fear and go on being the strong and confident person I thought I was.

But I overlooked another important side of fear - its ability to humble us and teach us about our weaknesses and limitations.

When my confident outer-shell began to break down, there was no more escaping my fears. I was forced to confront them. It takes vulnerability to admit your fears and failures, but I've since learned, there is courage in being vulnerable.

Fears about the future, about not having all the answers - this is what makes us human. It’s an inevitable part of life, our fallibility, but it isn't such a terrible thing as we might initially think.

Because there's another side of it, the purpose of fear.

If fear is a part of the human condition, then we are imperfect beings, and in that imperfection lies vulnerability. By acknowledging our weaknesses and confronting our fears, we can discover the courage needed to rise above them.

So then, courage is available to us because of fear.

I've been told by other Christians that there's never any need to worry when there are 365 instances in The Bible where God says "Do not be afraid" or "Have no fear" - 365 repetitions of this encouraging phrase, one for every day of the year.

Whilst this specific statistic has been disputed by other Christian writers and theologians, there is still no doubt that the phrase 'Do not be afraid' appears heavily throughout biblical text and is a primary commandment that the Lord bestows upon His people.

One of my favourite iterations of this phrase is found in Isaiah 41 of the Old Testament, where verse 10 says:

"Do not fear, for I am with you, do not be afraid, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand."

In this, it is clear that we as humans experience fear, but through belief in something, someone greater than us, we don't have to be enslaved by it - because we are loved by a limitless God who protects and strengthens us in throes of our fears.

The goal then, is not to strive to eliminate fear, but to learn to conquer it through a faith and hope in something bigger than us. Something which gives us the courage to confront our fears, process our fears and transform our fears into love, peace and purpose.

I've learned throughout the years that on the other side of my fears, is a God who loves me, who loves all of us, and though I still often find myself worried and scared about all sorts of things, I hold onto these encouraging words from the Book of Joshua chapter 1 verse 9: "Be strong and courageous, do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."

Ep6 | The Other Sides Of Fear: A Monologue
Broadcast by