Today I want to talk about fear. Why? Because I’ve been feeling a lot of it lately.
It’s pretty common for people to take their fear and bottle up. We don’t want to talk about the things that scare us because a) we’re not supposed to have emotions; b) we’re not supposed to feel fear especially; and c) why would anyone want to talk about their feelings anyway?!
But let’s be real, everyone – I repeat, everyone – feels fear. If they claim not to, there’s probably a medical explanation. (There is, it’s called Urbach-Wiethe disease.)
So there, I said it. You feel fear, I feel fear, we all feel fear.
Currently, I would say my fear registers as anxiety on the spectrum. I’m not afraid from my life, or suffering from any debilitating phobias. But I still get that pit in my stomach and cotton-mouth every time I think about what the future holds.
I recently had a performance review at my day job. It went well. I love them, and they love me, et cetera. But I was given the opportunity to ask them about working full-remote in the near future. I only brought this up because my apartment lease is up at the end of January. While I could sign again, my rent is going up $100, and is my awesome loft apartment really worth $920 a month? (Yes, yes it is.) I wanted options.
Travel has always been something I’ve wanted to do. I grew up moving every 6-12 months, so I’m used to packing and living out of boxes. But I also haven’t been in a good place financially to do much traveling. Until now.
Right now, in my life, I have the means to go wherever I want, do whatever I want, and be whoever I want to be.
This is a big deal for me. I’ve never had this much control or freedom in my life. It’s both exhilarating and terrifying.
Which brings me back to fear.
Since talking with my bosses a month ago, I have declared that I will be living the life of a digital nomad for an indefinite amount of time, both to my IRL friend and in my digital community. (Hi! That’s you!) I have the hope that these declarations will hold me accountable, but as we get closer to 2017, I feel my old buddy fear kicking in.
For those of you who don’t know, I co-host a podcast called Do It Scared. If the title isn’t obvious enough, it’s all about confronting the scary shit in your life and overcoming it. I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with some truly amazing women about their lives and adventures and it makes my little nomadic desires seem like child’s play.
But if there’s one thing I’ve learned through these interviews, it’s that fear is subjective. Everyone’s comfort zone is different, and everyone registers fear in totally different ways. So while feeling fear itself is not all that unique, take care in knowing that the way you feel is is 100% original.
For me, the fear that is surfacing has nothing to do with the actual moving part, and everything to do with leaving the people I care about behind.
If I leave for a few months, where does that leave my family? Where does that leave my relationship? Where does that leave my pets? (Let’s be real, I’m probably taking the furbabies with me.)
These are the things that keep me up at night.
Not business failure, not anything I’ve watched/read in the daily news, not anything except what the hell am I going to do without this support system in my life?
So here’s where I’m at – These fears are completely legit (I think) but they’re also completely overcomable.
Instead of letting myself lay awake at night and worry about my mom, my brother, my partner, I can meet them head on. When I start to feel myself become afraid or worried about things, I stop what I’m doing and write it out.
What story am I telling myself? That they’ll need me and I’ll be thousands of miles away? That they won’t want to put in the long-distance effort to keep the relationship going?
Whatever it is, I take the time to write down exactly what is going through my head. And I subject it to a few questions (these were adapted from Katherine Hurst’s Origins):
- Is this story true?
- Can I be sure that it’s true?
- How do I feel when I’m “living” this story?
- How would I feel if I disregarded this story?
By asking these questions, I find more often than not that I’m getting myself worked up for nothing. Or that my fear really lies in the fact that I need to communicate with someone else in my life about whatever is causing this fear and anxiety.
So, in my current situation, most of my fears surround other people and therefore are things I can never be 100% certain about. But I also need to stop exacerbating the issue by making up all of these stories in my head about what’s going to happen in four months.
Because it’s taking away from my now. And my now is pretty damn good.
I’m curious about what sort of fears you’re facing. Is it with your creative work, your personal life, or something else entirely? How do you deal with fear and anxiety on a daily basis?
If you’re interested in sharing your “scary shit” story on Do It Scared, then let us know! We’re always looking for people to share their insight on fear and overcoming it.