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On Fear & Authenticity

“Fear, to a great extent, is born of a story we tell ourselves, and so I chose to tell myself a different story from the one women are told. I decided I was safe. I was strong. I was brave. Nothing could vanquish me.” –Cheryl Strayed, Wild

Let’s face it. For many of us, fear is a real and far too constant reality in our daily lives, and it can motivate us to do (or not to do) a whole host of things. How many times have you decided not to try something new because of that tiny voice in your head that reminded you of the fifty different things that could go wrong? It happens all the time. I think many of us are prompted by fear more often than we’d like to think, and it can become a regular part of our decision-making process before we even realize we’ve let it in.

Admittedly, fear is the narrative my mind falls back on more often than not. I cannot count the number of times I’ve started up a new job, relationship, project, etc. and been greeted by a chorus of voices in my head telling me why it’s clearly a bad idea.

“Sarah, you’re not actually good enough to do something like this.”

“You’ll probably mess up and then everyone will know you’re a failure.”

“Isn’t it just easier to stick with what you already know?”

I’m an expert at holding myself to unreasonably high standards. I do it every. single. day. And it’s this fear rhetoric I continue to use that keeps me from accomplishing a lot of things that make life worth living.

So how on earth are we supposed to take back our power and change that story? It is not enough for me to sit contentedly in the boxes I’ve built myself into. Training the mind to think differently, however, entails a whole lot of willpower and an equal dose of grace. We have to be willing to embrace imperfection in order to allow anything new to enter into the mix. Real, unfiltered authenticity is tough. It’s scary. And it’s not glamorous. But it is part of being human and ultimately one of the most rewarding things we can allow ourselves to feel. We are all flawed and so far from perfect that it’s a wonder we ever tried to have it all together in the first place.

(I write this as I scroll through my Instagram feed of edited photos that make it look like I have the world’s most exciting life. Reality? I spent today avoiding thoughts of moving away because it terrifies me, and I missed an appointment because I can’t get my life together enough to get out the door at any decent hour. I’m craving routine and without it I feel like a certifiable mess.)

This process of embracing my mess is a gradual and somewhat unsettling endeavor, but it’s also more empowering than just about anything I’ve ever tried to do. Here I am in the midst of one of life’s most confusing seasons, and I’m forging ahead into the unknown because–well, honestly, because that’s the best I can do at this point. We’re making it, folks.

How are YOU choosing to tell yourself a different story? Today’s the day to start, and I want to hear all about it. Welcome your own chaos because goodness knows, life is full of it.

Here’s to new narratives!




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