I’ve spent most of my life afraid. At times I would go as far as saying that fear was a lover I never wanted but could not stop returning to; we were/are intimately intertwined. I don’t think most people who meet me would believe this about me since I am a fairly successful american male. To admit that most of my life was spent living in fear is counter-intuitive to how success is perceived in our minds. One can not be deemed successful and afraid at the same time; they are seen as mutually exclusive.
So how did fear and I become so close? Well, we met when I was a child. I was abused from a very young age (not by my parents so please withhold your judgment of my family, thanks) so much of my childhood revolved around being afraid of what was coming next. I rarely identify with being a victim; it was never a word I wanted to associate with but to not own that part of my story would be dishonest to who I am today. Physical abuse paved the way for constant nightmares which I equate to mental and emotional abuse and these became the start of my relationship with fear. Together we existed during the formative years of my life and fear influenced the way I saw the world and developed as a man.
What I found to be ironic about my life is that it is possible to be internally afraid yet outwardly fearless. This was me. Internally I was wrought with anxiety about life. I was afraid to be real, to be myself, to do the things I felt passionate about. Externally I lived without reservation. There wasn’t a drug or drink I didn’t like and a punch I wasn’t willing to take and return. For me, faking fearlessness was me hoping it would kill me so I no longer had to run from all of the things I was afraid of.
In time I learned to work through all of those things. I have become much more transparent with my life and a lot less self-destructive. All of those experiences contributed to who I am today; they have helped me relate to others in a way that only shared experiences can but I am reminded constantly that though I have matured, I don’t know that I have become less afraid. Fear is still my seductive mistress, just in new and different ways.
When I take inventory of my life I have a lot to be proud of and it has been an amazing ride thus far. I have seen so much of the world. I have met extraordinary people who given of their lives to help get me to the next place. My needs are met and in such a way that I get to help meet the needs of others. Suffice to say, I have an extremely fulfilled life. But there is a whole other aspect that I constantly think about and these are the hard things to be honest about; The things that fear has stopped me from accomplishing. Most days I feel incapable of loving someone long term and selflessly so I have avoided the thought of marriage. I fear failure so deeply that I have taken minimized risks in my career in exchange for a steady paycheck. I, at times, excessively give my time and money out of fear of not belonging in community and spending life alone. Failure, insignificance, loneliness, love… these are the things I still fear.
Fear is my pimp and I am it’s whore. It tells me where to go and what to do and the currency exchanged is my life.
We are all in this same place but arrived from different paths. Afraid to live life to the fullest because it may cost us something or someone, that it may reveal something about ourselves that we don’t want the world to see. We run, we hide and we end up trading who we are on account of fear.
What would life look like if we took back control? If we were not afraid to run full force into what we deeply feel our purpose is. To be unashamed to love unconditionally and wholeheartedly the people around us instead of loving the balance of our bank accounts. To speak honestly about all that is inside us without worrying if everyone will accept our brokenness. To not care if the picture is perfectly framed, the words are inspiring enough, the lines are drawn flawlessly, your body is sculpted in all of the right places, if the post got enough likes or if all of the wrong people want you around.
We all need to stop being whores and say fuck fear. Death gets closer each day; we have a finite existence. Live your life! The life you were created to live. The one deep inside of you. The one you are afraid of. It is imperfect to the rest of the world and that is ok because it is perfect for you. Don’t pursue it alone. Welcome others on the journey and help them do the same. Leave your mark and inspire people to be honest about who they are. A fulfilled life is one that is lived in the light and not hiding in the shadows. It is one of boldness and transparency and imperfection. We are all perfectly imperfect.