We hear it all the time. We tell it to our kids. Don’t be afraid.
Living in fear is generally a Bad Thing. Fear can hold us back, keep us from trying new things, or reaching our potential. But fear does something else that doesn’t often get talked about.
Fear makes us feel alive.
Think about it. The dead feel no fear. The dead don’t feel anything. And who wants to be dead, right?
I remember doing my SCUBA certification back in 1996. Part of the course was a deep dive, to the edge of a continental shelf, 105 feet down. The thought was more than a little panic-inducing. There would be no shooting to the surface. What if I couldn’t handle the pressurization/decompression stops? What if my mask broke, or I lost my regulator? What if my buoyancy compensator malfunctioned and I wound up sinking too deep? What if I get attacked by a shark?
You get the picture. It was almost enough to make me quit before I started.
But I went. My mask and regulator were fine. I handled the pressure stops with ease. My BC worked perfectly. I hung at 105 feet, table-sized plate coral to my left (seriously, I would have been crushed under that thing). In front and behind, the water tapered off into blackness. The next “land” beneath my feet was another 100 feet down, where I would have been squashed like a grape. And had I swum to my right, I wouldn’t have encountered land until I hit Africa.
I have never felt so scared.
I have never felt so alive.
When you feel fear, your heart starts pounding. The adrenaline may kick in. You get that “fight or flight” instinct. All of it reminds you that you are alive. You can feel, you can move, you can do – YOU ARE AWESOME!
Good fiction does the same thing – it makes us (at least a little) afraid, makes us turn that page. Are you kidding, don’t go into the dark cellar alone, in a storm, with no electricity, with a serial killer on the loose! Page flip – because while we might be afraid, we also need to know, how does it turn out?
Now, I’m not suggesting we all turn into adrenaline junkies. But the next time fear raises its ugly head, take a chance. Embrace it. Go out on that limb.
You might be surprised how alive you feel.