Embracing your fears

Sarah Rice, Reporter

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“Do one thing every day that scares you.”

Eleanor Roosevelt may have been born over a hundred years ago, but she definitely knew what she was talking about when she made this assertion. Fear, despite its negative connotations, plays an important role in pushing past our boundaries and stepping outside of our comfort zones to achieve the unthinkable.

Throughout the ages, fear has always existed to some extent. Biologically, fear is programed into our bodies for survival; when the body senses danger or experiences a threat, a sense of fear occurs and triggers a “fight or flight” response. Of course, this was more useful hundreds of years ago when the human species faced primal threats. On the other side of the spectrum, some philosophers such as Aristotle viewed fear as the opposite of confidence. He believed that acts of courage were the only way to combat fear- a belief similarly expressed by the First Lady.

In many cases, fear is irrational. The fear of failure. The fear of putting ourselves in a vulnerable position. The fear of being misunderstood. Of being abandoned. Of being a disappointment.  

Like any emotion, the feeling of fear is always valid. But that’s not to say we should let it consume us. Living in constant fear is not living- it’s simply existing. If dread fills every second of every day, there is no time left for us to explore ourselves, step outside of our comfort zones, and experience everything the world has to offer. Sure, sheltering ourselves from every fear leaves us comfortable, but nothing extraordinary was achieved or experienced while being comfortable.

To truly live, we don’t necessarily need to conquer our fears, just embrace and face them. Being scared doesn’t have to mean being powerless. So by doing one thing each day that scares us, we take control over a frightening situation by purposely putting ourselves in it. We gain the power to push our personal boundaries, work towards the unthinkable, and achieve what once seemed impossible. It becomes possible to take what was once a weakness and use it to our advantage.

These don’t all have to be life-changing experiences though. Talking to a stranger, spending a day without technology, asking for help- each seemingly small act of courage eventually adds up to a large sense of bravery and strength.

Following Roosevelt’s advice comes with no strings attached. After trying something that scares us, what really is the worst that could happen? We fail? Even if the desired results were not achieved, the mere attempt to take action and face a fear is a step in the right direction. The worst case scenario is one where no action is taken; the easiest way to fail is to never try.

Each day has twenty-four hours. Within those hours exists millions of ways to do something that scares you. And out of those millions of opportunities exists the perfect place to start embracing your fears.

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Embracing your fears