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This Is What Fear Makes You Do

08/26/2015 05:11 EDT | Updated 08/26/2016 05:59 EDT
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I was babysitting some kids at a farm down the road -- the one with the long laneway and the big creaky house. I was 13.

I had just put the kids to bed when a storm rolled in. A big one. Lightning flashed and thunder roared, and soon enough the power went out. I had no idea where to find candles or flashlights, so I glued myself to the couch, clutching a throw pillow for comfort. The rain rattled the farmhouse windows and the wind howled around the corners. I was terrified.

The doorbell rang. I felt my way through the dark to the front door. The door was flimsy, with metal on the bottom half and a large glass pane on the top half. As I reached for the handle there was a flash of lightning and through the glass I saw two large men. Each man had a large gun slung over his shoulder.

(I realize this is beginning to sound like a scene from a slasher movie, but this actually happened.)

I unlocked the door anyway (OMG. Why?! WHY did I do this?!).

I saw myself opening the door (You idiot! They'll kill us all!!!).

I politely asked the armed gentlemen how I could help them. They wanted to know if they could hunt at the back of the farm. I can't remember what I said to them but I closed the door after they left and burst into tears. I was hysterical. I had to call my mom to come over and calm me down. Needless to say, I was never asked to babysit there again. Not that I would have.

Why am I telling you this story? To illustrate a point: We don't make very good decisions when we're afraid.

Fear is good if you encounter a grizzly bear or a swarm of angry hornets. It keeps you alert and gets you the hell out of Dodge. But fear gets in the way, too. At work. In life.

Just think of all the things you've done because of fear. Stayed in a shitty relationship. Failed to speak up. Studied the wrong thing. Did what you were told. Kept the soul-crushing job. Stayed small. Held back. Watched from the sidelines.

And how does that feel? To give in to fear?

Not awesome.

Do that over and over again and you've got yourself a life of regret, and nobody wants that.

What if this time you didn't let fear win?

I'm not talking about base jumping or ice climbing or going from zero to 60 in three seconds flat. I'm just talking about making good decisions for yourself, even in the face of fear. Small decisions, at first.

Once you get the hang of it, you realize that walking through your fear doesn't actually kill you. In fact, it makes you stronger, bolder, and eventually you start to wonder why you ever held back in the first place.

What's one small thing you can do today to move through you fear?

Do it.

Originally published at Careergasm.

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