“All my life I had been looking for something, and everywhere I turned someone tried to tell me what it was. I accepted their answers too, though they were often in contradiction and even self-contradictory. I was naïve. I was looking for myself and asking everyone except myself questions which I, and only I, could answer. It took me a long time and much painful boomeranging of my expectations to achieve a realization everyone else appears to have been born with: that I am nobody but myself. ” ~Ralph Ellison, “Battle Royal”
Throughout our lives we are conditioned to believe that we should dress and act in certain ways. Often we are encouraged to blend in, not rock the boat, and follow the course laid out by our elders. Norms however are completely subjective and remain tied to the region in which you were raised or live. Social norms are different all over the world. If you allow society to shape you and tell you who to be then you’ll always be trying to live to please someone else.
“To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting. ” ~e.e. cummings, 1955
It takes courage to live your own life. To take risks, have your own style, take a different path from your family, to open your heart, and expose yourself. It’s not always easy to set your own goals, plan a course for navigation, and carry forward to achieve. It requires persistence, tenacity, and the courage to conquer your fears. These fears often create cages that prevent us from flying free. We allow the fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of being alone, fear of humiliation, fear of judgment, and fear of being outcasts to cage us and prevent us from flying where our hearts want to take us. The word courage stems from the Latin word cor, which means “heart.” It takes true courage to follow your heart and allow your passions to steer your course. We have to use our strength to act upon our desires and work towards our dreams.
“We are so accustomed to disguise ourselves to others that in the end we become disguised to ourselves.” ~François Duc de La Rochefoucauld
I observe in myself and others that we tend to silence and criticize our inner voice. We berate our inner child and pass off its urgings and desires as foolish. We allow the loud and overbearing voice of our ego to beat us into submission. We try to numb the pain it causes us by using alcohol and drugs, becoming workaholics, overeating, or pursuing casual and unfulfillable relationships. By avoiding a confrontation and allowing this domineering force to win we start losing faith and going through our days as victims reacting to what comes our way. In this mindset we render ourselves helpless, and let others choose our lives, instead of choosing our own fate.
What fears are holding you back? Write them down, and face them. If there is a valid reason for the fear, or a negative experience upon which it is based, then make an action plan to start solving the problem that is at the root of the fear. These fears will look a lot less scary then we have made them out to be in our minds. Confront them for the lies that they are, and stop allowing them to hold you back.
Now make a list of everything that you would do if you didn’t have fear standing in the way. Don’t overthing this or judge yourself. Even if it seems silly and insignificant write it down. There is no right or wrong answer here. Just an opportunity to discover more about yourself and let your inner child have a voice.
“The highest courage is to dare to appear to be what one is.” – John Lancaster Spalding
Make a plan for yourself and begin taking steps towards completing items on your list. You will be working towards living a life that is unique and tailored to you. Start small, and set attainable goals. Don’t let your failures bring you down, but look at them as lessons and learn from them. The next time you find yourself in a similar situation you’ll have new tools and skills to work with. I am putting myself out there and putting some of my fears on the web. I hope that the courage I have presented in doing so, will encourage others to have the courage to face the fears they possess and confront them.
afraid of not living up to the expectations of my friends and family, fear of making my loved ones angry and embarrassing them, fear of falling in love and being hurt so bad i never recover again, fear of loving someone who will hurt me and leave me, fear of not living up to my potential, afraid of not overcoming my mental and emotional challenges, afraid of being judged, afraid of being successful, afraid of living healhty, afraid of experiencing joy for fear of losing it and being consumed with pain, afraid of not being loved, afraid of being misunderstood.
For an excellent article that inspired me to write this post, and complete the exercises read Steve Pavlina’s The Courage To Live Consciously.
Don’t be afraid to fly. Let your spirit soar!
Sweet pecks and melodies my chickadees