How Do We Live Life Unafraid?

Writer+Lindy+Dale+in+fall+of+2018.+Photograph+by+Sarah+Craig

Writer Lindy Dale in fall of 2018. Photograph by Sarah Craig

Lindy Dale, Writer

It is human nature to feel fear. Fear is what keeps us alive. Fear is what protects us from getting hurt emotionally or physically. Fear is a guardian angel, but fear is also a chain that anchors us down, keeping us from swimming into the horizon. So, if you were to ask me if fear was a good thing or a bad thing, I wouldn’t be able to give you a straight answer. What I do know is that there have been too many moments in my life when I have let fear hold me back from something great. 

While I have been guarded from pain, I have lost more by giving up opportunities. The thought of the things I have lost because of fear has led me to ponder the question, “How do I live life unafraid?” 

I am not naive enough to think that I can completely get rid of fear; however, I want to be able to master it so that I am not overwhelmed with anxiety in my day to day life. As I have studied this question I have found myself taking a journey into my life to see where I have succeeded in overcoming fear, so that as I enter the unknown, I will have the knowledge of how to not let my doubts take over.

In my search for an answer to this question, I found myself in the fall of 2011. I was performing in a local community theater production of Annie. As an eight year old, I had never done anything like it, but I quickly fell in love with the craft of performing arts. That one show is what inspired me to take up dance classes, learn how to read music, join band and choir, write songs, and so much more. From that one production, what I have come to identify as me was born. Every part of me has been molded from the things I have done since that fall. 

Unfortunately, I sometimes find myself wondering if I have wasted my time. I have dedicated thousands of hours to honing my talents but I have no plans on making a career out of them. Performing arts is a hard business and one that has suffered worse than any other because of the coronavirus. The inability to gather in crowds has shut down theaters across the globe. No one knows when stages will open back up again. This unsettling fact is what has encouraged me to follow other paths. I have had the overwhelming feeling that my life has been wasted. I wonder if I should’ve spent my time on some of my other interests such as literature or science. I feel that a deeper knowledge of these things would better suit my present ambitions. I regret something that I shouldn’t. 

This regret has bubbled inside me, tearing everything that I have become apart. At least it was. 

The first step in conquering fear is having no regrets.  In life there is no set path. It is more like an open field with millions of possibilities. You can choose to walk one direction one day and another the next and enjoy the blessings of both. No two people will ever walk the same hike. Regret nothing because the things you do will never happen again. Regret stops you from seeing what is in your present line of vision. What you have seen in the past may help you to see the tiny details that make life beautiful today. Don’t let regret hold you back.

That’s not to say you should forget the things you’ve done. Remembering the things you’ve done is vital to our new vision. But constantly looking over your shoulder is no good. Dwelling on the past will pull you down. A person shouldn’t forget, but they also shouldn’t dwell.

I speak from experience. I have spent far too much time looking over my shoulder. I look back most when I make a mistake.

 No one enjoys the feeling that accompanies slipping up in life. Mistakes are inevitable, but they are a learning experience. When you slip in the mud there are a few things you can do: Never get up and stay in the muck; keep walking but constantly looking back at where you fell, distracted from the dangers in front of you; or keep walking with your eyes on the path ahead so you don’t fall again. 

Personally, I have done all three( more often than most, the 2nd option). As humans we tend to bully ourselves. We don’t allow ourselves to look forward, but when we don’t look at where we are going and instead look at where we have been, we are in the most danger to fall. 

Which is our second step in controlling fear: embrace  mistakes. When you mess up in life, bear in mind the 3rd option. Get up and keep walking with your eyes ahead of you, but with the memory of falling there so you know what to look out for. 

Don’t beat yourself up when you fall. Your mistakes are shaping you. They are making you stronger. Remember them and let them do their job.

Finally, you must press on into the unknown with a smile on your face. It is so easy to let your thoughts take over and destroy your perception of what is going on around you. While things may be hard, nothing is impossible. To help yourself walk into the future with confidence, it is important to smile.

A smile goes such a long way. The physical act of smiling can lift your spirits. Smiling makes the dim things in life bright. So, turn up your cheeks and look for the positive. The moment you do this is the moment you become unafraid of what lies ahead.

Life isn’t easy; it’s not designed to be easy, and as humans we live terrified of making mistakes. You can never completely get rid of fear, however I have learned that stopping all progression because you are afraid cannot be an option. You have to learn to keep going. You have to conquer your own feelings. You have to be okay with who you are and where you are going.

My time in life has been one to remember. I have grown in previously unimaginable ways, but I would not change anything about it. It has taught me so much and I have gained control of my life as I have applied these things.

Your life is also one to remember. Keep your eyes peeled for the things that make it grand. Learn, laugh, fall down and get back up. You only have one life so make it the best life

Be bold. Be brave. Live life unafraid.