When Fear Goes Into Hiding
Lately I feel like I’m up-leveling, on the cusp of everything, gaping wide-eyed at my life as it finally starts to resemble the life I have always wanted.
I just finished writing the manuscript of my first book, and I plan on publishing it myself in February 2016 (unless a lightning bolt of divine synchronicity connects me with a radiant agent or publisher before then). My book is about creative writing, about uncoiling the stories and fears that keep our voices trapped inside, about powerfully choosing to share our work with the world. My book is short, but it brims with inspiration, meditations, soulful stories, and exercises.
In my brave moments, I believe that this book will change the lives of thousands of writers. In my frail moments, I believe that my parents and grandparents will be the only people to ever purchase it.
I just signed a lease for a beautiful apartment in a tree-lined Chicago neighborhood that I’ve always wanted to live in, and I’m starting yoga teacher training tomorrow which has been a dream of mine since high school. But instead of feeling energized about all of this, I feel swept away by an empty sense of apathy. I stare at the screen of my phone, eyes hypnotized, finger scrolling into nothingness, What do you mean all of my feeds are already refreshed? My energy feels stagnant and jumbled up with everyone else’s, my desires churn over themselves in a green lava lamp of din and confusion until I no longer know who I am.
The hustle while writing my book, the divine swoops of inspiration that overtook my heart, are nowhere to be found. I blink at my computer screen with the desire to write, to blog, to lay the groundwork for my book launch… but my fingers hover motionless over the keys.
It’s not a fluke, it’s not a case of “Writer’s Block” … it’s just the presence of Fear.
Fear doesn’t always show up as a heart-pounding, show-stopping panic of terror and adrenaline. We catch onto those dramatic moments quickly – wow, this is terrifying, make it stop, get me out. Our minds have found ways to channel our fear into less obvious emotions (anger, malaise, detachment, boredom, loneliness), and sometimes we don’t make the connection that these feelings are also rooted in fear and self-doubt.
In the moment of hesitation before you jump, crack out of the egg, leave the nest, set sail, quit the job/relationship/struggle, break free – fear can quiver before you.
During the seconds, weeks, months when you could still turn back, pull the plug, shut the door, delete the book, cancel the check, change the plan – doubt can hypnotize you into believing that none of your dreams mattered to begin with.
I could still call this whole thing off. My life is fine as it is.
Instead of letting fear paralyze you into scrolling facebook all day, take out your magnifying glass and explore that fear. Let your inner ten-year-old mad scientist come out to play as you rustle through the nooks and crannies of your life to spot where your doubt and fear is holding you back.
Look at the pieces of your life where you have hypnotized yourself to believe that it’s okay for you to stay small, hidden, secret, cast off in the corner. Look at the phone calls you avoid, the feelings and plans and plane tickets that you hide from your friends, the little white lies that you swear are no big deal. Peel back anything that keeps you small.
The teaching that has most transformed my life is that each one of us is a luminous, abundant center of big gushing light. The most beautiful truth I know is that we are powerful, harmonious, vast, and expansive… and everything else, all the anxiety, the gossip, the doubt, the malaise, is just the sludge that covers up our brilliance.
Transcendentalists say it. Writers say it. My spiritual teachers say it. I say it, and I will repeat it over and over again because it is the crux of how I show up in the world.
If we are unstoppable beings of brightness, then this inertia, this apathy, this self-numbing cannot possibly be the Truth of Who We Are. Those tendencies are just the neuroses we pile onto ourselves, the paint that chips away to reveal the iridescence underneath.
If I can believe that there is a light rustling somewhere within me, waiting to be unleashed, then surely I have the capacity to put down my phone, exit out of Minesweeper, take a deep breath, forgive myself, and start generating the enthusiasm that I crave.
We can return to that bold shimmering I-can’t-wait-to-set-the-world-on-fire brilliance by facing our lives one moment, one breath, one conversation at a time. When we don’t feel like writing, we write anyways. We may write badly. We may write like small children who just learned how to hold a crayon… but my God, we are writing. Look at us go.
When we feel like our capacity to love has withered away, we choose to love anyways. We take leaps that we don’t understand. We let in the support we didn’t know we needed. We see fear for the holy messenger that it is, coaxing us into illuminating our own glow-in-the-dark path home.
Peace, Revival, and Magnifying Glasses,
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3 thoughts on “When Fear Goes Into Hiding”
Bravo Kelsey!!! Beautiful writing!
This week I am meeting a group of 19 people I signed up to go to Peru with in two weeks. Havent met my roommate or anyone. I trust we will all work harmoniously together. On waiting list for China. Going to Spain next. Too much fun?
Missing work? Fear encroaches but COURAGE spreads her wings and leaps. Travel she says-explore, face obstacles. SOAR.