Corresponding with Fear

Dear Fear,

I have been trying to get acquainted with you for a good while now. I’ve sensed your presence for months now, as I step into new roles and prepare to step into even bigger ones. 

I don’t know what to make of you. I don’t normally consider myself a very “fearful” person. There are things I’ve been afraid of in the past, but I can’t really think of too many things that I have actually been held back from due to fear. But maybe that’s ignorance. I’m sure there’s plenty of things I haven’t even attempted out of some sort of fear deep within. 

As I started working on my PowerSheets this year, I started uncovering a lot of fears. Some of which were founded, some of which were absurd (though, understandable). 

Here they are:

  • I am afraid of writing and of starting a podcast because I know I will face a lot of my fears and pains and I’m not sure I can actually commit to showing up consistently and what if I can’t and then my business ends up like the rest of my brands?
  • I am afraid of letting go of X because it may mean he and I are no longer in each other’s lives and he may move on a love someone else the way he couldn’t fully love me, even though he wanted to.
  • I am afraid of focusing on recreation because that means taking time away from things I’ve been working so hard on and I might find that I don’t really know what I find really fun outside of business and who to have fun with….of being alone. 

A big theme that has come out of these fears and through my PowerSheets work and as I grieve the relationship I have lost is rejection. I’m afraid of rejection.

Rejection in my business. In relationships. In friendships. In work. In everything. 

I’m realizing that as I start to feel desperation, especially in doing this whole work/side hustle thing, that things start to feel more scary and unrealistic and I lose my sense of confidence and trust that things will work out beautifully. 

For example, yesterday I had a particularly frustrating day at work and as I was walking to the bus at the end of the day, I started running the numbers in my head and wondering how I would ever be able to sustain myself any time soon and that got me down a spiral of despair around not being able to quit my job for a long time and all of the difficulty that I’d have to face as a result. Not that it won’t be difficult to be on my own. Gosh, that will be hard. But at least I’d be able to free up my mind and energy and time to spend on things of my own choosing, things that I’m actually passionate about. Or will at least allow me to do more of that. 

And this kind of fear is scarcity. It’s coming from a place of lack and it’s very level 1. It limits the number of choices available and leaves little room for imagination, trust, confidence, abundance. That feels heavy. I don’t want that. 

When I actually allow myself to dream and envision what could be possible and what I’d actually like my life to look like, the possibilities are endless. Fear isn’t a part of that equation. Or, if it is, it’s the fear of even greater expansion, of which I don’t have the capacity for yet. 

What am I really so afraid of?

That this business is going to fail.
That I’m never going to recover/move fully on from X.
That I will fully move on from X (and he will too). 
That I’m going to struggle to make this business work and be in a financial bind.
That I’m going to have to stay with UpContent for a while yet.
That I won’t have people around me who get it
That I won’t be able to step into this next level of expansion (or the next or the next).
That if I don’t make moves now, then I’m not going to succeed in my business.
That I’m going to run out things to say because I’ve already had such a tough time finding my voice these past few years.
That I’m going to burn out.
That I’m going to have to do marketing tactics that I don’t like.
That I’m never going to really know what I’m doing or have a real plan that works. 
That I’m perpetually going to wake up exhausted, no matter what I try to do to “fix” that.
That I’m going to effort my way through all of this and that’s what will lead to my undoing.

I can see that if I give Fear the microphone, he’s just going to keep going, like some terrible comic who doesn’t know he’s being booed off the stage. 

But, dear Fear, I know you mean well. You’re my personal gremlin. Your job is to keep me safe and small. And I appreciate that. But it’s not needed. You can’t protect me forever. Like a parent, sometimes the hardest but most necessary thing you have to do is let go and let me fail. Let me make mistakes. But also let me flourish. Let me thrive. Let me step into my greatness. Let me do more than I ever dreamed possible. Let me be ME. And I am not afraid. 

Love, Marissa

Dear Marissa,

I’ve been your companion for your whole life. You let me in more than ever after you graduated college and after you left teaching and we’ve had an off-and-on relationship ever since. I don’t want to see you get hurt. I don’t want you to work so hard and then fall on your face. I want to protect you from that pain. I love you! If you push me aside, I won’t have much of a role in your life. I won’t have a reason to exist. Let me help you be careful. 

Love, Fear

Dear Fear,

We all are afraid of the same thing, aren’t we? Both you and I don’t want to be rejected. 

But if we allow that to get in the way of living our fullest lives, we don’t really live at all. I don’t want to get to the end of my life and regret all of the bold steps I didn’t take, all of the challenges I didn’t push through, all of the possibilities I passed up. 

So. What if I fail? But, my darling, what if I soar?

Fear, you have a new job. Remember how you sometimes jump in to warn me about real dangers? Stick to that. And in the mean time, since I know that doesn’t come up as often, cheer me on. Support me. Give me confidence. Give me strength. Love me for who I am, who I am stepping into, and who I will be. Challenge me. And when I fail or get hurt, which inevitably I will, don’t chastise me or say, “I told you so.” Instead, give me compassion and grace and, in time, give me wisdom so that it won’t have been for naught. 

You are a good and faithful companion. But you don’t get to hold me back anymore. You can stay with me if you want, but I can no longer accept your reservations, your doubts, your worries. Loving me looks like support, acceptance, joy, confidence, peace, encouragement, motivation, kindness, and compassion. I feel most loved when I am affirmed for who I am and the choices I am making. 

“It is a joy to be loved. It is profound to be understood.”

Understand me. Don’t try to hold me back. Understand why it is that I want to move forward or expand or try something new. Understand what it is that I need, not what you think I need. 

I imagine you’re a lot like a parent of an Olympian who shifts and moves in pure worry as I lay it all out on the mat. You know my routine better than almost anyone else. You’ve memorized it and you know what’s required of me. Fingers covering your eyes and curled up into yourself, you’re constantly muttering prayers and letting wave after wave of hope and fear pass over you. But you let me do my thing. You can’t step in now. All that’s left to do is to watch. And if I win, you jump up in pure joy. And if I fail, you step in with words of pride and compassion. It’s alright. It’s alright. I’m so proud of you.

What would it look like if you were proud of me for trying instead of scared for me to take a step?


Written in February 2018

Marissa Burdett1 Comment