Fear. It’s something most of us encounter on a daily basis. Not the life-threatening kind of fear, but the kind that makes us question our decisions or whether or not we have the right stuff to get a job done or follow through on a dream.
This week I’m at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival and the first lecture I attended was about “Nerve” – having the nerve to face the blank page, the filled page (revising), and finally, facing an audience (sharing/presenting our work). And it got me thinking about my own relationship with fear.
Fear is oftentimes seen as the opposite of courage. As we navigate life we’re encouraged to hide our fears and be more courageous. But why? What’s wrong with getting a little freaked out about things? The more I thought about this I realized that I believe that one can’t have courage without first experiencing fear.
Fear and courage are not opposites, but necessary bedfellows. Courage is laying bare our fear. It’s sharing our fear. It is welcoming our fear in order to understand what it is there to teach us. Without fear we cannot be courageous. Without fear courage cannot exist.
This idea that Fear and Courage are not oppositional, but a linear progression, gives me a boost of confidence. It gives me something to do with fear. Rather than trying to run from it, I can welcome it and search for its meaning, knowing it is a teacher, not a punisher . . . knowing that courage will eventually rise from its ashes.
Do you agree? Do you also think that courage does not exist without fear?