I’ve been thinking about fear a lot recently.
I’ve been known to, more than once, turn down an opportunity because I was afraid I would fail.
My 8th grade year my piano teacher signed me up for the Pitt State Music Contest. I had to memorize a piece, then play it for a judge. I started to learn the piece Für Elise around Christmas time. By April, it was memorized, polished, and played to perfection. Competition day came and I sat at the piano in front of a crowd of peers and a judge who had her pencil poised over the score card. I froze for a moment, then began to play. My hands moved effortlessly in the right pattern… sadly I had started on the wrong note so I was in a totally different key. Deep breathe. I started again. This time, it was right. Until I messed up again.
Without the music in front of me, I totally blanked on my piece. I tried to find it, then I sat in defeat as tears came to my eyes. Eventually, the judge brought my book to me and I finished the piece by reading the notes. I cried a lot that day. All I wanted was to go home and pretend that it had never happened.
The next year, my teacher wanted to sign me up again. I was once again living in that moment of embarrassment, and I refused. She signed me up anyway, thinking I would come around. I put my foot down and made excuses and deals until finally she let me off the hook.
I was petrified of being in that situation again, but I told her that I simply didn’t want to. I said I was over competitions; music is to be shared, not judged. Instead of facing it head on and addressing what held me back, I hid.
Why do we do this? Ignore the fear as if that makes it non existent? I’m no better off today because I didn’t compete again. In fact, I have anxiety every time I play for someone because I didn’t overcome my fear. I robbed myself of the opportunity to improve because I hid.
Today, I will stop hiding from my fear.
I fear failure.
being yelled at
people not liking me
forgetting people’s birthdays
The point is, I fear a lot. Maybe announcing my fear won’t change anything; but now I have nothing to lose. There’s no point in hiding what I’m afraid of, because now the world knows.
My fear may never go away but by acknowledging it, I break free from its hold on me.
Acknowledging the fear is the first step, but sometimes it takes more. Every day requires me to grow and adapt to the new fears that sprout. Here are some ways I try to continue to let go of fear:
- Know your purpose. In life, school, and relationships.
- Make goals to stay true to those purposes.
- Know what you value.
- Understand that fear can compromise you holding true to those values. (I value honesty, but I fear people not liking me. Sometimes, I have to say the truth even when it isn’t easy)
- Ask a friend to hold you accountable to acting even when fear hits. Be vulnerable with them.
These may seem easy at first, but if we are dedicated to a fear free life, it takes commitment and vulnerability to get there. We have to work towards it everyday, and sometimes that requires reminders. One of the ways I remember to use these hacks is by listening to powerful music.
One of my favorite songs is “Live it Well” by Switchfoot. In the song it says,
“I wanna sing with all my heart a lifelong song
Even if some notes come out right and some come out wrong
‘Cause I can’t take none of that through the door
Yeah, I’m living for more than just a funeral
I wanna burn brighter than the dawn
Life is short; I wanna live it well”
Today, I choose to break free from my fear. Whether the path ahead holds failure or success, by choosing to take the step I know growth is not far away. I’ve got one shot at this life, so why let myself be held back by something as pointless as fear?
What fears have you been hiding?
Will you choose to break free?
This is your life.
Live it well,
Abby Goins, Vice President