Afraid of Fear

There was a time in my life when most things scared me.

Dentists. Cars. Weather. The dark. Ghosts.

I would go to sleep each night and pray to whatever gods or spirits might be listening, asking them to protect me until I woke up. At that point — I imagined — I would be alert enough to start worrying again, giving me some kind of will-powered protection against the supposed threats I spent a great deal of my time fixated on.

It’s possible to get over fears, though I’m not going to tell you that there’s nothing in the world that sets my teeth on edge anymore. I’m still afraid of things like failure and death and being mutilated by wild animals or malfunctioning heavy machinery. But one of the more significant evolutions I’ve undergone in the past decade or so is that I’m no longer afraid of fear. Or to put it another way: simply being afraid of something does not deter me from doing it.

In fact, I’ve found a lot of value in pursuing the very things that scare me initially. This serves the double-purpose of reiterating to myself that fear can be a silly reflex, not an absolute judgement of how dangerous something is, while also allowing me to destroy potential ceilings I might cover myself with before they have the chance to form. The latent benefit of chasing down your fears and proving them harmless is that you expose yourself to people and places and experiences you wouldn’t otherwise encounter. This makes you a far more well-rounded person, and allows you to see the world from many different angles.

I’m not saying you should ignore your instincts and jump into a pit of hungry lions. I am saying you should question your instincts and make sure a more primal part of your brain — shaped by genetics and your upbringing and biases — isn’t leading you astray and keeping you from living your life for fear of what could go wrong.

Only by testing our limits can we know how far we’re able to go, and only by shoving fear out of the way are we able to see that it’s just a shadow making scary shapes on the wall, not an actual monster.


Note: I’ve recently faced a handful of my own fears (staying in one place, building businesses that take more than one person to run, living with other people in cumbersomely large homes) by deciding to spend 6 months in Missoula, Montana to work on a publishing business with two other people, who I’m also living with in a big house we’re using as an office.

I’ve been talking about this quite a bit in my free newsletter, but Asymmetrical Press has dominated a lot of my attention of late, and with good reason. We’ve got a whole lot going on and even more on the horizon, and I want to bring your attention to one of our projects, Chapbook, the first issue of which is available for free on Amazon until March 2.

Chapbook is a compilation of short work, pulled from larger works from myself and the other authors currently publishing under the Asymmetrical Press imprint. Authors in this edition include Joshua Fields Millburn, Ryan Nicodemus, Shawn Mihalik, and Chase Night. I’m super-crazy-excited for people to see the kind of work we’re producing and publishing, so if you have a second, go snag yourself a free copy, and I would truly appreciate it if you’d leave a review on Amazon and Goodreads once you’ve had a look. These reviews help Asym and our authors immensely, and I really appreciate you taking the time!