Celebrating Fears Faced

When I was in high school, I was accepted as a Rotary exchange student and was invited to go to Belgium for the year. I let the fears of others rule my decision and I stayed home.

That is one of my biggest regrets in life.

As I matured, I began to realize that letting fear stop you from taking chances means giving up on a lot of dreams and on living. I tried, when faced with fear, to push through it and face the fears. I wasn’t always successful, but I grew stronger and more courageous with each attempt, or so I thought.

Yet, something shifted again after I became a mother. Suddenly fear has control over me again, and more often than not I give into those fears. Fear of trying to publish. Fear of making friends. Fear of taking chances. I think this new hold FEAR has on me has something to do with the fact that my life is not my own–my decisions affect Nathan and Sarah. I can’t just pick up, take off, and take chances.

Yet, as I approach this birthday (Eek! The actual day is tomorrow) I find myself yearning to become the person who does not let fear stop her anymore. After I graduated from college and was on the job hung (following a one year internship at a theatre) I had two interesting options on the table:

  1. The more practical option of working for a Canada based Arts Administration Organization that sent people throughout North America to help arts organizations with reorganization and planning. This would have probably led to a solid career in Arts Administration and or Arts Advocacy (one thing I would still love to do ) and–more often than not in recent years ;)–I’ve thought being Canadian wouldn’t be such a bad thing.
  2. A job teaching at an English conversation school in Okayama, Japan.

If you’ve read my blog for any amount of time (or even just the first of the celebratory posts), you know where I ended up.

In Japan in my early 20s.

Yet, the decision to go to Japan was not an easy one. It was a fear-filled one. It took some words of wisdom from one of the actors at the theatre company I was working out to help me make a choice. He said,

“There are no wrong decisions. There are choices that can go badly, but they always lead to the next decision.”

I tried to make those the guiding words of my life. This doesn’t mean we never make mistakes, but if we face those mistakes head on–despite our fears–we will make it through to new opportunities, new decisions, and new moments to face our fears.

So today I celebrate the moments in my life when I faced my fears and moved through them. Among those moments, I celebrate the day I got on a plane, headed for a country I’d never been to a job I never thought of, and cried my way from Boston to California before sitting in sleepless fear from California to Japan.

I hope someday to be that courageous again.

7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Andra Watkins
    Mar 13, 2013 @ 10:23:18

    MTM also taught English in Japan. In 1992 or 1993, I believe. He loved it there.

    I think, as we get older, it is harder to take risks. We know the potential downsides of failure, because we’ve lived long enough to experience it, and it is harder to put ourselves in line for that possibility again.

    A decade ago, I thought nothing of changing jobs. If it didn’t work out, I could always find another one. Now, I worry all the time about putting my practice on hold to pursue a dream. Who will hire me if I fail? Am I stupid to let my skills deteriorate? Have I ruined my personal brand by throwing caution to the wind and going after a dream? Does anyone take me seriously anymore?

    And, my constant hormonal refrain this week: am I already a failure?

    I hope the outcome of my quest will inspire others, however it turns out. ๐Ÿ™‚ Happy Birthday Eve, Lisa.


    • Lisa Wields Words
      Mar 13, 2013 @ 10:30:37

      Where was MTM? I was in Japan from 91-94. Wouldn’t it be funny if we had met?

      Andra, you know I’m with you on this journey in more ways than one. I think part of this list thing I’m doing is to try to figure out what my personal brand is, as well as what that might mean for my current desires to pursue ridiculous dreams. We can help each other, even if it is simply through giving virtual moral support. I’m always around if you need to chat, vent, stress or simply be hormonal.

      You are an inspiration.


  2. lisaspiral
    Mar 13, 2013 @ 14:35:16

    All it takes to be that courageous again is to just do it. I hope you have a fabulous birthday and that the coming year provides you with glorious opportunities to show your children that taking chances and facing fears will make them stronger human beings. ๐Ÿ™‚


  3. Sandra Tyler (@woventale)
    Mar 13, 2013 @ 14:44:21

    Thoughtful post. I’ve been afraid a lot in my life. I’m a worrier about the future. Still am. But at 50 maybe it’s time I let go of some fears. I keep hoping ill learn to live for the moment:)


  4. Kathy
    Mar 19, 2013 @ 15:19:50

    May we never let our fears stop us. It can be so hard to do this some times. I congratulate you on your successes.


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