the F.A.I.T.H. series: Fear can be your Friend
in thinking about perseverance and pushing to move forward always, i’ve been thinking a lot about faith.
as i have mentioned previously, i have struggled with my faith over the years, especially faith in myself. much of this has to do with fear of failure. fear tells me that i’m not smart enough/skilled enough/certain enough to succeed. but slowly, i am (re)learning to tell fear that i AM smart enough/skilled enough/certain enough to do ANYTHING i choose. of course, doubt lingers, but it is no longer the primary voice to which i choose to listen.
although doubt is no longer the primary voice in my head, it’s still in my head, and every now and then its taunts make it past the self-confidence that i have been building back up. like i said previously, “sometimes, i think i’m scared to be great.”
back then (summer 2013), it felt like every time i got close to realizing my potential as an amazing student affairs professional, i would sabotage myself. by that time, i had already withdrawn from one semester, failed a couple of classes, and pushed my graduation date back to December 2013 from its original May 2013. coming off of a 4.0 first semester, i limped through the next term, stumbled through the summer, and completely fell on my face the following fall. it was like being on a rollercoaster; one minute, i was going up, reaching for the sky and my lofty dreams of changing the world through higher education, and the next minute, i was plummeting down a hole of self-destruction and zero motivation. when this all culminated in being dismissed from graduate school (after going through the charade of walking at my “graduation” ceremony, smh), i was at rock bottom. i wanted life to stop. the only reason i didn’t contemplate suicide was because i didn’t want to abandon my daughter. i now know that some of this rollercoaster ride can be attributed to depression and bipolar disorder, but i also take plenty of responsibility for how things turned out.
i felt that something was seriously wrong with me, and i sought help at one point, but i didn’t follow through on the advice given and tried to shake it off on my own. total wrong move. #DenialMuch?
how i got from the lowest point of my life to my current happy-medium is whooooole other story. but i’ll tell you part of it: at one point i was terrified that i would be stuck forever. stuck not knowing how to move forward professionally. stuck not knowing how to cope with my diagnosis. stuck in an endless limbo of being in-between what i’m trying to get away from and what i’m trying to get to and not being sure of my destination but being sure that the current location is unacceptable...just, stuck. in order to get unstuck, i had to realize a few things. remember that acronym from last week?
i have learned that fear isn’t the worst thing in the world. after reading (and furiously underlining passages in) Meera Lee Patel’s My Friend Fear: Finding Magic in the Unknown, i came to realize that fear can even be good for you. as Patel says:
this is a beautiful way to think about fear. instead of thinking about it as the antithesis of faith, perhaps we should begin thinking of it as a catalyst for faith. when i began teaching full-time, to say that i was scared would be a massive understatement. but my fear came from my desire to be good at it, and to be honest, at first i sucked at it. however, i kept faith that, as i progressed in my career, i would continually become a better teacher, and three years later, i’d say i’m not too shabby.
some say that fear and faith cannot coexist in the same space. my personal experience says differently. i am learning that my fear is usually a precursor to something amazing, and if i just have a little faith, that something amazing will come to fruition.
❤️ lauren dee
Patel, M.L. (2018). My friend fear: Finding magic in the unknown. New York, NY: TarcherPerigree.