I'm talkin' fear, fear of missing out on you and me
I'm talkin' fear, fear of losing loyalty and pride
'cause my DNA won't involve me in the light of God"
- Kendrick Lamar
In 1970, Nina Simone spoke two words that would remain applicable for the next 50 years. The interviewer asked her, "What does freedom mean to you?" After searching for the right vocabulary, she thoughtfully responded, "I'll tell you what freedom is to me -- NO FEAR!"
Her vigorous conviction and genuine passion have allowed her words to echo from then until today; especially since the subject of mental health has surfaced to mainstream consciousness. Disorders like anxiety stem from one's dwelling on irrational fears that have yet to occur. Being in this state of paralysis has crippled more lives than COVID-19. The question is -- Why do we fear and why does it affect so many of us?
Psychologists define fear as a negative emotional response to stimuli that triggers an intense memory that influences our perception of that stimuli. If I was stung by a bee at the age of 7, chances are that I would grow up with an aversion to bees. Our maturation suggests that our fears become more complex than intrusive insects, though. Some people might grow to become fearful of their capabilities. Renowned author Marianne Williamson writes, "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us." This popularized quote claims that it is the perception of self that results in a great deal of fear that we experience. Before writing this post, I thought about how I define fear and the ways it presented itself in my life.
Fear is the way my jaw clenched when I was 17 and saw blue lights in my rearview mirror. Fear is me starting my day by waking up to the news of a slain civilian that shares my facial features. Fear is the pale White man whose portrait is found in numerous Black churches, where they regard him as 'The Almighty'. Fear is me entering a meeting room where I am the only one of my skin color, hoping to exist as an approved representation of two cultures that oppose each other. Fear is me being championed as a solution to help fix a world that sees me as the problem. Fear is me trying to find oxygen in the dividing line between the solution and the problem. Fear is me carrying this weight while trying to make it look effortless.
I now understand that my fear that was once a hurdle to clear is now a mountain that I need to climb. I realize that I need to rewire the perception of what I grew up seeing -- mainly myself. This fear has interrupted my faith, as well as my forward movement.
I am currently in the process of changing my lifestyle by amending my current habits. This change is slow, but each step forward serves as a tangible reminder that I'm choosing to progress. I wake up in the morning and spend time writing positive affirmations. Writing and reciting phrases like, "I am enough," or "I will finish what I start," sets the tone needed for my day to be successful. I noticed that making definitive statements about my intentions causes me to own my time and be less reactive toward situations that are outside of my control. I'm also incorporating yoga into my weekly routine. Though the very idea of it is foreign to me, I realized that I find that same, aforementioned oxygen through this practice. My friend is both a yogi and an essential resource for me in these beginning stages. Yoga currently represents my struggle to find a balance between challenging myself to grow and giving myself grace. Pushing myself to do more isn't always the answer; I have the sore legs to prove it. Yoga has influenced me to make changes to my diet and social media intake as well. I'm transitioning to a plant-based lifestyle, limiting the amount of information that I subject myself to and I've stopped listening to as much aggressive music as I did pre-quarantine. These actions have resulted in a drastic change in my energy levels, even though I'm still in the infancy of this lifestyle change.
Overall, I still feel fear. I still feel a level of anxiety that is paralyzing at times. The only difference between now and before is that I'm choosing to override my insecurities so I can grow. I refuse to be in the same place at 27 that I am at 25. I refuse to allow my insecurities to result in my inactivity. PERIOD. I am a human being that commits to growing daily. Along my journey, my responsibility is to share my findings. I hope that you read this and pass it on once you apply it to your situation. To live in fear is to not live at all, therefore I choose to reaffirm my intentions daily. It's a process, but it's also manageable. Thank you for reading.