Guest Blog today from my friend, Mitchel Grace.
Mitchel is an aspiring writer from Mississippi. From his keyboard he pounded out his thoughts on fear and shared them with me this morning.
by Mitchel Grace
Fear is a subject that a lot of people don’t understand. Some people treat it as a defect in our emotions, and others treat it as a normal human emotion that keeps us from doing things we shouldn’t. Is it normal? It certainly seems that it is. Everywhere you look, someone somewhere is afraid of something. Is it healthy, though? I would say yes and no. We naturally fear death or losing the people we love. My friend, Michele Collum, has a rare disease called Chiari Malformation, and that is very scary. In truth, I knew almost nothing about this disease until I heard about her situation. This disease is something that someone should fear if they have it. Cancer is another disease that we should fear. Why do we fear these diseases, though? We fear them because they could take us away from the people we love. If we don’t beat these diseases, we’ll never have another opportunity to love our families or experience anything on this earth again. That fear is normal, and it’s healthy. We should always strive to live against all odds.
Here’s a thought I have concerning that, though. How many of us are actually living before we find out we’re living on borrowed time? We all talk about all the things we’re going to do in the future, then one day we wake up and realize there isn’t enough time to do those things anymore. We wasted our time being conservative and safe. Look where that gets us, though. We all leave this world with regrets, but most of them are because we didn’t do what we should have done.
I’m still a young man, but I can honestly say that I let fear defeat me for twenty-four years. If I wanted to do something, I thought about everything that could be wrong with it until I talked myself out of it. I never talked to that girl who was supposedly a little out of my league, and I never truly expressed my own opinions. After all, my opinions were different than every other person around me. While other men in my area were obsessed with things like hunting, fishing, and cars, I was more into writing and music. I felt alone, and I was afraid that by stepping out of line and simply being who I was, I would be rejected. Last year that changed. I had always wanted to go to Europe. I wanted to go to Italy and to France. The cost was pretty astronomical because there were a lot of things I wanted to do there, and I was bringing two other people with me. I feared that somehow this experience would fall short of my expectations and I would be left with far less money and no experience to show for it. Was Europe overrated? Yes, not everything was like I thought it would be. Did I still have a unique experience that was truly needed at that point in my life? You better believe I did.'
I didn’t stop there, however. I had always wanted to write a book. I lacked the confidence to do it in the past, but little by little I was gaining that confidence. After you’ve survived the Roman traffic with a crazy taxi driver you can do anything, I told myself. I started writing, but every time I did, something got in the way. I would write a chapter, and then fear would set in. I would think things like: Is this what people want to read? What are they going to say when they see this garbage? For some reason I just knew that what I was doing was going to be rejected by the people around me. I’m still afraid of that. When January rolled around, I had absolutely no writing material. I had literally erased everything I had ever written. That’s when I made a decision. I was going to start doing things the way I wanted to do them. So what if someone laughed at my story? So what if someone might think that they could write a better story? The fact is that very few people actually write a book. If I was going to do this I had to conquer my fear. I wrote five to seven thousand words every day, and I refused to edit one word of it until I had finished my first book. It was raw, and in some places it might have even been a little ugly, but it was mine. I was proud, and more importantly, I was confident in what I had done. I continued writing because it was what I had always loved to do.
Then came the hard part. I started letting people know what I was doing and even let some people read what I had written. At first it was hard, but now it’s easy. The same principle works with everything else. I have read that Michele is learning to fly. For many people this is a very unnerving process, but it’s all worth it when we push ourselves to the limits of fear. It makes us stronger, and most importantly it makes us check off something on our list before the clock runs out.
So in closing, the only things we should really fear are losing the ability to make more moments and stretching ourselves to our limits. Stretch yourself to those limits, and remember one thing. You’ll never get another chance to live this day. Love like there could be no tomorrow, and just as importantly, fear and overcome that fear because you may wake up one day with a real reason to fear. We’re living on borrowed time, people. Learn to enjoy that time, and yes, I mean that you should even learn to enjoy the challenge and accomplishment of overcoming your own fear.