This past weekend I and a few of my peers attended a conference in Chicago, Illinois based around the concept of leadership. We went to numerous breakout sessions and listened to keynote speakers as is the usual with such conferences, yet there was one moment that stood out in particular to me since it happened and has been rolling over in my head again and again since.
The last speaker brought up the topic of fear.
Fear. The definition of fear is “an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat”. Fear is natural. Fear is human. Fear is instinctual even. But what if for a second, fear subsided? What would you do with a second of unparalleled courage? What would you do if you had no fear?
This speaker turned the presentation over to the spectators in the room, over 2500 students and adults at this conference. He asked us to stand and give our declarations over what we would do if we had no fear. Numerous youth and adults stood and spoke, and overall there are few times I can pinpoint that I have felt more empowered by those around me. Just by hearing what others are passionate, yet scared of. Hearing others say that if they didn’t have fear, they would apologize. They would mend bridges that they have burnt. They would fart in front of their boyfriend. They would tell their parents they were sorry. They would become the president. They would come out to their family. They would tell someone that they love them.
But they don’t do these things, because they do in fact have fear.
This idea may not be as impacting for every other person as it was for me. But it got me thinking, what would I do if I had no fear? Why am I scared of these things? Am I scared of rejection? Of failure? Of success? No matter what the reason is, this irrelevant, imagined scenario sticks in my head and stops me, and everyone else from all of these acts that we would do.
The thought of rejection stops a youth from coming out to their parents, it stops us from saying we are sorry, stops us from attempting to mend a bridge, and it stops us from telling those we care about that we even care about them.
So that brings me to think, what would I do if I had no fear?
I would travel. I would impact people. I would let others impact me. I would use my voice. I would stand up for others, no matter the response I got. I would love unconditionally. I would be a division 1 athlete. I would speak publicly to promote suicide awareness. I would apologize to my parents more often. I would mend my own bridges. At one point, I would’ve said that I would start a blog. Yet here I am.
I am not here to tell you fear is always irrational. Fear is some cases in a totally natural response to an unpleasant situation. It is natural to be a little fearful before you talk in front of a crowd, and it is natural to be somewhat fearful also before a big test or interview. But when we succumb to this fear, we orphan our hope. We look it dead in the eye and say “I’m sorry, but I can’t”, and we walk away.
Our passion, our drive, our fire. When we let fear overtake us, we close our souls up with lock and key and do not give them air to breathe. We suffocate our hope, our drive, and any chance we would have ever had at our dreams. We let ourselves down, yes, but even more impactful, we let our world down.
Take this thought and run with it. What athletes would we look up to today, if not for fear? What could doctors have discovered by now, if not for fear? What inventions would we have? What relationships would we have? Where could we have propelled ourselves to, if not for our fear?
I’m not here to tell you that everything doesn’t happen as it should. I believe whole-heartedly that there is a reason for every event. I’m not trying to tell you that fear isn’t sometimes totally justified, or that whatever you believe in is wrong.
But I’m telling you that whatever you are scared of, whatever leaves you shaking in your seat or makes you heart swell with anxiety, is nothing more than just an idea in your head. A possible scenario, yes. But there are countless possible scenarios, failure is just one of them, yet we let it be the most present scenario in our minds. We let it keep us from our dreams, we let it be a decider in our lives at times rather than a driver. I will leave you with this thought. Think to yourself:
If I had no fear, what would I do?
Let this thought impact you. Let it leave you thinking for hours as it did with me. Let it drive you to change yourself and your world. Make a list and tape it to your bathroom mirror to see every morning while you’re brushing your teeth to remind you where you true passion lies. If you feel appropriate, share in a comment what you would do if you had no fear. I am sure your ideas are as important and impactful as any.
Until next time.