letting the fear lead

Over a year ago, I was talking to this guy, this totally and completely gorgeous guy. We had met at a party in Wilmington and exchanged numbers. He was tall, tan, very muscle-y, and had light eyes and dark hair.  Basically, if you were like “show me a picture of the hottest person you’ve ever encountered in real life”, I’d Insta search this kid to show you a pic.

We started texting when I got back to school and conversation was going pretty well. We were both really into working out and eating healthy, we were both in school, he liked to cook, he had a dog, it was all very good.

We had been texting back and forth pretty consistently for a little over a week when he added me on Snapchat.

So… we’re Snapchat friends now.

Everything is fine and then about 3 snapchats in he snaps me a video of his snake.

…yeah. You read that right. His snake. The snap progression went from puppy filter, bee filter, puppy filter, SNAKE video.

And this is not me trying to be witty by using a euphemism for male genitalia, get your mind out of the gutter. I mean he actually sent me a video of a very large snake in a big plastic container eating a live mouse that he had fed it.

AND then he sent me another video of a DIFFERENT snake also eating a live mouse.

Yeah.

Now, I am terrified of snakes. I’m not a huge fan of most things that fall under the categories of creepy, crawly, slithery, slimy, or gooey, but snakes are probably one of my biggest fears. I will take a bowl full of spiders over a tub full of snakes any day. So learning that this guy not only liked snakes, but had them as pets was a big hell-freaking-no, run for your life, get the hell out of there moment. All I could think about was the Friends episode where Chandler starts freaking out about dying alone like Mr. Heckles and decides that he needs to get a snake.  So, in my head all I could hear was Chandler screaming,

“Run from crazy SnakeMan!!”

 

And that’s exactly what I did. I ghosted him. Shamelessly, might I add. He didn’t hear a word from me after the Snakesnap. I think it’s fair to say that most girls are afraid of snakes and that for most of us, having a pet snake(s) would be a deal breaker, but if I hadn’t been afraid of snakes would I have continued talking to this guy? Would I have dated this guy seriously?? Would we be living together now breeding large snakes and feeding them innocent mice???

Well who the hell knows because I never want to be in the same room as a snake, let alone making it a nice little home in a Sterilite storage container and feeding it live rodents.

Fear is sometimes healthy. It protects us from things like crazy snakemen and keeps us from jumping off of stuff or driving on the wrong side of the road. Fear is good… sometimes. In moments when fear isn’t good however, it can cause us to miss opportunities.

How many decisions have you made with fear? Fear of being rejected, fear of being embarrassed, fear of failure? Have you waited? Have you left? Have you stayed? Have you kept your opinions to yourself because your afraid of being disliked? Have you never done that one thing that you’ve always dreamed of because there’s a million and one ways that you could screw it up? Have you accepted stagnation in your career or relationship because you are afraid of change? Are you afraid of being alone? Is that keeping you in a relationship that you’re bored in or unhappy in? Where in your life are you letting fear lead you?

Heavy questions, I know.

I have let fear take me many places; to three colleges, to the gym, to the floor of my dorm room, to my parent’s house, to church, to a seat in the back of the lecture hall, to quick-paced walks home alone, to the safety of bathroom stalls. Many decisions I have made in life, the ones that I still tuck away in a cabinet labeled “mistakes”, I can trace their existence back to a fear. A fear of being alone, disliked, unwanted, awkward, myself, rejected, noticed, laughed at, seen.

Fear has a way of crippling us, of curling itself around our wrists, of locking our jaws, of cementing our feet to the ground. The funny thing is that I’ve never been afraid of it though. I’ve never been afraid of fear. Too often have I laid a welcome mat down for it and said “please, come in”. I’ve walked it down hallways of doubt and showed it to rooms of uncertainty. I’ve welcomed it into spaces of my life where I was comfortable and hesitant of change and let myself grow stagnant.

But this is a complete misuse of fear. Sitting complacent with your fear and letting it lead you to places that are only comfortable and known is a mistake. We must learn how to lead with fear rather than letting fear lead us.

I do not wish fear to stop existing in my life. I do not long for it to stop knocking at my door. I never want to be without it. If it must live in rooms in my mind and in my heart and in my soul, let it live there. Let my fear sit with me always. Let it be the compass my hands are too shaky to hold, but must follow. Let it be the arrow my heart is too weak to shoot, but must let fly towards something new. Let it be the words my tongue is too placid to form, but must say.  I want fear to be always there, always surrounding the next uncomfortable task. We cannot wish away fear. We can only change how we react when we meet it. Instead of giving into our fears and letting them take us away from the scary and unknown, we must push through with them.  From our fears we must create our to-do lists. We must do the things our minds, and hearts, and souls are terrified of because that is where we learn to move, and speak, and sing, and breathe.

Always,

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