My own fears looked like these big catastrophes that became less plausible the more time I had to think about them. Basically, they were the things that one can never predict. I became so careful anyways, just in case. My life began looking like a lot of closed doors, because I could never really know what was on the other side. It was a subtle shift inside myself, but it arrived in my life as hitting the same vacation spots every year, daily routines that left no space for spontaneity, and successfully shutting out anything that was even a little scary. I didn't realize at the time that that is life; life is what I was closing the door on.
Then I started yoga, and it has a funny way of really showing you how you see yourself and how you are showing up for life. And that's when I started to wonder: what if the thing that scares me is not the "what if this crazy unforeseen disaster happens," but instead, what if people see me doing this thing I have never tried before and they don't understand? Vulnerability. I am beginning to realize that the fear of being out there alone is quietly more damaging than all those "what ifs." I say this because those subtle fears have become habitual in my life; I'm riding in the back seat and fear is making all my decisions for me, in such a subtle way that I don't think me or anyone around me knew it was happening. It was making every decision for us, without me even acknowledging that it is there, calling the shots.
For the past, maybe 20 years, my life started looking something like this...
I try something uncomfortable, I fail (because everything is messy at first), maybe a few people laugh or smirk. Then I close the door on that experience and never open it again. Then the next time I try something new and fail, (maybe no one even says anything; it doesn't matter anymore) self doubt comes into my head all the same, and then that door is closed too. Then all of a sudden, before I even knew it was happening, I would preemptively quit before even getting started.
I believe we, as a society, have forgotten how to be uncomfortable. Being in a non-air conditioned room, or sitting through an awkward silence, or staying in anything when it becomes even the slightest bit uncomfortable. All that is is running, retreating, and riding back seat.
I have made the decision: this isn't going to be who I am anymore. And I would like to note that this is not about rejecting who I am, it is about letting go of this bleak notion that if I am going to show up, I have to be perfect. Because really, showing up is the part that matters.
I started setting reminders in my life- It's always messy the first time; give myself space. Instead of my addiction to instant gratification, maybe I sit with the waiting. Instead of running from every uncomfortable thought that passes through my head, I try to find my way through it. And the biggest thing for me: instead of trying to be everything to everyone, I start to work on being someone whom I like. And for me, that starts with vulnerability. Opening some of those doors again and airing things out. Letting people see who I am.
I am becoming friends with vulnerability, and life is beginning to happen again all on it's own. And yes, that looks messy to begin with too.