Why it’s Okay to be Scared

Dear Self,

Guess what?  It’s okay to be scared.

Friends say I’m fearless, but my family will be the first to tell you I’m a sissy, the scaredy-cat kind.  The truth is, I’m scared all the time, but two years ago I read Taking the Stairs by Rory Vaden and this story changed my life:

Adelaide was terrified of heights. She worked in an office job in a high rise. Every day she took the elevator to the 23rd floor where her office was. She never took the stairs because you could see between the railings all the way to the ground.

One day the building she worked in caught on fire. With the rest of her colleagues she dashed to the elevator only to find that in the case of an emergency it really didn’t work! Like a salmon fighting up stream she made her way back to her office preferring to face death by fire than heights in a stairwell.

Finally a fireman entered Adelaide’s office and found her whimpering beneath her desk. Grabbing her hand he dragged her out from under her desk. But she wouldn’t budge.

With great determination the fireman picked Adelaide up around the waist and began dragging her kicking a screaming toward the stairwell.

“No, no she panicked! Don’t take me down there I’m scared of heights. I’m scared!”

“Then do it scared,” the fireman responded.

And so she did, shaking with fear and clinging to the wall farthest from the railing – she did it scared!

Today she is applauded for jumping out of planes, and hiking mountains. “She’s so brave,” they say. But she just smiles and shrugs, “Not really, I just do it scared.”

Thus she lived in spite of her fear.

These are the lessons that changed my life:

So much of my life I tried to stomp out my feelings of fear.  In other words I was scared of being scared, afraid of being afraid, and fearful of being fearful.  Instead of overcoming my fear I just kept trying to capture it and make it go away, like a bad smell in your kitchen.  But this story taught me to feel the fear.  There’s nothing scary about being scared.  In fact there’s great freedom in being able to say, “I’m scared,” because it reveals that you’re not scared of being scared.

Don’t be afraid of being afraid.

The best way to overcome your fear is not denying it, hiding it, or forgetting it.  Just because we don’t need to be afraid of what’s scaring us doesn’t mean fear is fake.  Fear is a real thing.  But because most of the time we do not need to be scared we should proceed despite our fears.  In other words, we can do it scared.  When we “do it scared” we overcome our fear and teach ourselves that fear isn’t as real as it feels.  Gradually, the cries of fear become fainter and the roar our courage grows louder.

Each time we “do it scared”
the cries of fear become fainter
and the roar our courage grows louder.

It’s okay to be scared.
Being scared means you’re about to do something really, really brave.
Live in spite of your fear!



PC: Fine Art America 

P.S. What do you need to “do scared?”

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