“Never forget that fear is but the precursor to valour, that to strive and triumph in the face of fear, is what it means to be a hero.”
That is a quote from one of my absolute favorite television shows “Trollhunters”. I love it because it reminds me that being afraid is okay. It’s not about not showing fear; it’s about staying grounded enough to conquer that fear. That is exactly what I wanted to discuss in this installment of my Life is an Adventure mini series. My last article focused on being courageous and taking chances. Lets focus on the last part of this formula.
When I was growing up I always concentrated on being fearless. It’s something that my grandfather and dad instilled in me. As an immigrant who had to learn English in the second grade I couldn’t be afraid of the moment. My dad pushed me to run six miles as early as the sixth grade. I didn’t have time for fear then. As an 18 year old I couldn’t be afraid of leaving my home behind to join the Army – less I let my family down. My life followed this pattern and it was exhausting. I didn’t like to try new things because it meant something else to fail.
One of the most influential people I met in Alaska shattered this perception that I’d carried with me for as long as I can remember. They’ll remain anonymous, because that’s what they’d as for if they could. This friend was also in the Military, but we didn’t work in the same unit. We met in the gym and then coincidentally walked to the grocery store. We struck up a conversation about living in Alaska and missing home and quickly realized we were pretty similar in our interests and goals. Son after he was inviting me over to dinner and game nights with his family since he was 5 years older than me. The more time we had spent there the closer we became and the better I got to know him. He would unquestionably play any role given to him by his young children. He would sip the tiny invisible tea, and cry during sad children’s movies or books. On one of our more serious conversations we discussed the looming deployment and how were handling it. He simply said he was afraid of it. Internally I questioned this line of thinking, it wasn’t something I expected from him but it did make sense when he explained it. Having fear of something is not what makes you fail, its what you do with that fear that matters. At that point I began the journey of coming to terms with my fears rather than fighting a never endless battle with an unrealistic standard.
My modus operandi didn’t flip a switch overnight, but at least I knew it wasn’t the only way. You could say I’m afraid of a lot of things almost 10 years after that. I’m afraid I’ll wake up one day and realize I wasted too many moments with my daughter. So I oblige when she shrieks with excitement at the prospect of playing a dance video on Youtube…for the 245th time in a row. I’m afraid I’ll miss playing soccer when I’m old and my body says no more…even if I haven’t touched a soccer ball in years. So I joined a league this past summer. Mostly I’m afraid to look back at my life either next week or 50 years and realize I lived a lie. If you find something funny, laugh. When something is sad or it touches you, cry. Live with a healthy fear of missing your moments and you’ll realize how much more you appreciate it all.