An Open Letter to Fear.

Dear Fear: You’re tricky, but I guess you already know that.

You leave me alone when I should actually be fearful – I am seemingly fearless when entering a new city on my own, moving across the world. I don’t feel you when I make a public speech, go in for an interview, and I even have no fear of dying as many do. I try to live my life one day at a time, not being anxious or fearful of what tomorrow will hold. And for the most part that works.

Yet, you, Fear, have me in your grips when it comes to one specific area in my life. And it’s the area that will give me energy, motivation and a sense of accomplishment – and well, it would give me money, too. When I sit down to ‘put myself out there’ in this new business venture, to market myself and try to make a go of it, I’m stopped dead in my tracks.

And I know it’s all because of you. You bastard.

All of a sudden the confident girl who moved across the world, traveled on her own, and loves the unknown is fear-stricken, not sure how to move forward. All the negative thoughts and questions come rushing into view -- who am I to say I can do this? What experience do you have? Sure you like it, but are you good at it? Will people actually pay you for this? What makes you think you know what you’re talking about?

Those, my sneaky friend, are all you. You’ve even got me in your grips when it comes to learning the skill, teaching myself to succeed and becoming knowledgeable about the field. Instead of learning from those who have gone ahead and shared their expertise, I look at what they’ve created and automatically think ‘I’ll never be as good as they are’ or ‘they naturally have this skill, I’m sure they didn’t have to learn anything – it just came to them.’

Deep down I know that’s absolute bullocks. It’s not true. They started out just the same as me, yet they fought through you, Fear. They saw you and kept walking. They pushed through and made it to the other side.

I want to do that too… but right now, you’re a bit too strong. So I succumb to the known, rather than the unknown. I continue my regular gigs without stepping out to see what’s past your iron gates.

So, I’ve come to a decision -- instead of trying to get past you, I’m going to accept you. You won’t go away. I’ll be like John Nash in A Beautiful Mind – I’ll acknowledge you’re there, I’ll live with you everyday, but I’ll strive to say: ‘I’ve gotten used to ignoring them and I think as a result they’ve kind of given up on me… you have to keep feeding them in order for them to stay alive.’

All this to say, Fear: Sure you’ll get the best of me some days, but I can’t feed you anymore. I’ll strive every day to ignore you, to resist your grips, and to walk a few steps ahead of you. It'll be a daily struggle, but it's something I have to be willing to fight through. I have no other choice.

Sincerely, Rachel M Vander Pol