Monday, November 21, 2011

Let's Talk About Fear

Let's talk about fear. Is that okay with everyone? Because I've been wanting to for a while. But I haven't. Due, well, fear...I guess. So let's talk about it.

Sometimes people tell me I'm fearless. I can recall exact moments and places I've been told I'm brave: engraved on a graduation present, over shish kabobs in a guy friend's kitchen, written on a card from my best friend.

Those weird, seemingly insignificant moments stuck with me. They stuck with me because each time, in my head, I was thinking, "Whattt? I am?"

Gradually, after hearing it a few times, I started to believe. You're right, I'm not afraid to live in unknown cities, unknown countries. I'm not afraid to make new friends or learn new languages. I'm not afraid to take adventures. I'm not afraid to live far away from the people most important to me; I'm not afraid to miss them. 

Maybe I am fearless. Hah, look at that!

Cue the engasada chorus. Really, Carrie? Get over yourself.

I believed it though, I really did. And I was pretty darn proud of myself.

But since moving to Honduras, I'm starting to think differently.

It's not what you're thinking. It's not suddenly dawning on me that I am, in fact, afraid of scary capital cities and communicating in Spanish and starting over with friendships and learning a new job and missing people. Those things may frustrate me sometimes, but they don't scare me. I don't fear them.

Maybe though, just maybe, I am starting to realize that I fear other things. Plenty of people go gallivanting around the globe, taking risks and making stories, but does it make us fearless? I'm not sure I believe that anymore. I think people like us fear mortgages and leases and car payments. We fear being entrenched in our life; we fear commitment. We're absolutely terrified of the word regret and the phrase what if? And we are scared to death of looking back and thinking we settled for even a millisecond.

Just like others' fear may keep them anchored in one town their entire life, our fear keeps us moving. It keeps us trying everything to make sure we don't miss anything. It has us creating blogs based on our mantra -- that you only live once. :)

My favorite definition of fearless is actually this one: "Fearless is not the absence of fear. It's not being completely unafraid. It's having fears. It's having doubts. Lots of them. Fearless is living in spite of those things that scare you to death."

Call it a quarter-life crisis. Call it what you want. But if that's what it takes to truly be fearless, then what does that mean for me?

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