Fear and Letting Go

The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown. –H. P. Lovecraft

I went on vacation a week ago with a good friend. We drove South and hit the beach, Orlando (Harry Potter world!), and some port cities on the return trip. It was great – I got a pedicure and a massage.  I read a few books, learned about some new music, and bought some fun souvenirs. I bonded with my friend a great deal. I got to swim and play in the ocean. I also got a much-needed break from life.

It was a bit of awkward timing, though, since I had just had a huge week. I briefed the most senior staff in our agency, and got pretty good feedback (gratifying). I also learned I’d be running my next project, managing a more senior person, and would not be getting a salary or position increase. I also had gone on a couple of dates with someone that went pretty well. A lot has been happening, essentially.

I realized on vacation that I’ve been buried by fear lately. I’ve never been one to outwardly succumb to fear. If I have been afraid, it’s manifested in low expectations and losing myself in activities.

Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy. –Dale Carnegie

I’ve been afraid, though. Afraid of running this next project and having to navigate uncertain waters. Afraid of leading my team into the warzone, of managing someone older and more experienced than me (and arguably more qualified), of not doing something correctly. I’ve been afraid of being in a serious, long-term relationship. (And I hope I haven’t self-sacrificed past opportunities because of some hidden fear.) I’m afraid of power exchange as a concrete part of a relationship.

Fear doesn’t become me. I was reading the “Secrets to your twenties” book, and it just sort of reinforced that fear is good. Fear means I’m alive. Fear means I’m challenging myself. Fear is an opportunity – an opportunity to grow, be stronger, improve myself, and learn. Moreover, fear is natural – it’s the response to uncertainty.

Eleanor Roosevelt said it best, though:

You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.

I’d resigned myself to doing just that. I got a few kicks in the ass and supportive comments, and they’re right. I know what I’m doing. I’m good at my job. I can handle challenges. It doesn’t matter that they don’t want to pay me appropriately, it’s still a good opportunity. In the dating world, D/s is flexible, and as long as the communication is there, it doesn’t have to mean losing myself. Long term relationships don’t have to mean losing my independence or my life. Really, if it’s a good fit, the person can blend into my life.

Today, I found out I will get the salary and position promotion when I start my next project. Turns out, the higher ups like me more than the lady who spoke to me first does. Basically, I’m now more motivated, which is good. I need to embrace the things that scare me. The dating thing may not work out for other reasons, or it will – who knows, but at least I’m not scared of it anymore.

A last quote I liked about fear:

Curiosity will conquer fear even more than bravery will. –James Stephens


Day 6, 30 Days of Me

What is the hardest thing you have ever experienced?

See context for the relationship with my parents…but specifically:

In 6th grade, my sister was hospitalized for several weeks for mental health issues. My parents were very preoccupied, and I ended up feeling more than a bit neglected. I was very shy at that time, and my social circle was limited. I ended up pretty close to the edge myself. A friend ended up taking me to church with her, and faith ended up pulling me back from the edge that year. The following year I switched into a different curriculum, made a bunch of close new friends, and learned to distance myself from my family emotionally. Things were never quite easy at home after that, but my perspective on life was different – I chose to be happy, to be optimistic, and to take ownership of my own peace of mind.

The second hardest thing was probably going to France for a semester. The first few months of not being able to communicate with anyone or even communicate enough to manage daily life things, well, that was rough. People think of studying abroad as this great thing, and it was a fabulous opportunity and easy way to travel. That said, I wasn’t staying with a family, classes weren’t in session for weeks after our arrival but I didn’t know anyone, I had horrible command of the language and could barely grocery shop at first. It was great for my independence  and a bunch of other things, and it got easier (and even very, very fun by the end), but it was a rough time for a month or two.