Fear is the one, invisible deterrent that stops me from making the most of my life. Fear is not a person or a physical obstacle, but I too often live my life dominated by its unseen hand.
But on May 27, 2016, I was determined to live my life ruled by courage. May 27 marked my first trip to California. It was for a Speech and Debate competition, where I would give an original oratory about the importance of sleep. I know, riveting. But why I was going did not matter to me, I was going to Sacramento California, with one of my best friends, Ruthie.
For Ruthie and myself, Sacramento would be a place of unknowns, unknown climates, unknown faces, and unknown experiences. And I knew how much that demon, Fear, loved unknowns. Because the unknown strips me of complacency, so I often give into fear if it means I can be comfortable. But this year, for this trip, I was determined to make a fool of fear.
After a late night arrival in the Sacramento airport, Ruthie and I woke early the next morning for competition that took place at a school I had never heard of before. More unknown. But it did not matter, Ruthie would compete with me…until I found out we would be performing at different schools, she a college campus, and myself at a high school building that was a maze to navigate.
When I finally found the classroom I was assigned to, I sat on a concrete slab just outside the room I would compete in, utterly alone. I stared at my phone overcome with the fear of talking to strangers; people to my left and right were doing the same. This was it, fear had doomed me to a life of staring at a screen until competition.
But then I remembered how much fear loved to manipulate my desire for comfort, so I did the most uncomfortable thing a teenager can do. I turned off my phone. I then strolled around a rectangular structure crawling with beautiful yellow flowers. I think I must have circled that rectangle three times, because they were so lovely to look at; each one so different, like the memories I made on that trip.
Finally, I dealt fear one more fatal attack by talking to a complete stranger. I remember her surprise when I introduced myself, I must not be the only target of fear.
After that conversation, I knew that fear had no power over me anymore. The rest of my trip was spent having conversations with friends old and new, eating at strange restaurants, where the girls dressed like flappers and the men wore fedoras, and beholding the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament.
You see, this is the thing about fear; it only had power over me until I actively squashed it. And when I did, I realized fear is invisible because there is nothing behind the feelings of anxiety it produces. So, my advice is this, when given the chance, do the thing. The more fear you feel, chances are, you are about to make memories that reveal the courageous being you are.
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