If I had to guess the first time I felt fear, I think it would be at my first birthday party. My parents had wanted to have a Sesame Street-themed party for me. However, I guess I was not on board with that idea. I saw a picture when I was one year old. I was at a party screaming and clinging to my mother while a worker dressed up as Elmo was standing next to us in the photo.
Fear protects and alerts us when a perceived threat is present. However, at times the very thing that is what is meant to protect us can backfire and hold us back. For example, I probably did not enjoy my first birthday because I perceived a harmless person in an Elmo suit as a threat. In the big scheme of things, this does not matter because I would not have remembered whether the experience was good or bad. However, fear is something that I have allowed to control me for a big part of my life.
One of my biggest fears is a fear of failure or rejection. I felt like I missed out on many opportunities in middle school and high school due to my fears. I did not try out for sports because I was afraid of not making the team. I did not make many friends because I was fearful of not being accepted by my peers. I did not apply to some scholarships because I thought I was not smart enough or accomplished enough even to be seriously considered, and I was scared of getting a rejection email. I swore I would change once I got to college, but old habits are hard to change. I was still guilty of staying in my room and barely going to social events, club meetings, and networking events because I feared feeling out of place.
A turning point was when I decided to apply to be a resident assistant (RA). I remember opening the application a couple of times and wondering if I wanted to go through the trouble because I thought I would get rejected in the end anyways for not saying the right thing or not being outgoing enough. With guidance from my RA and encouragement from my roommate, I decided to fill out the application and fast forward through the application and interview process, and I found out I got the position.
A verse I think back to now when I feel fear about a new situation is Isaiah 41:10, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous hand.” This verse reminds me that God is right there with me when I’m experiencing my fears and comforts me to know I’m not alone. Even if things don’t go the way I want them to, it just means it was not part of His plan for me, and there is no need to despair. He is my God and knows what will serve me and what will not, and all I can do is trust in Him. God is here to give me strength through the good and the bad, and reminding myself of that makes me feel a little less afraid to put myself out there because I know He will always be with me regardless of what happens.
There is no easy way to overcome fear. However, three tips can help you not let it hold you back.
1 One of these is learning to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. For example, if you have fears about socializing, try starting a conversation with a stranger in class or line for something
2 Another tip that helps is talking about your fears with friends or family. It can be comforting to know that others share your fears and help you navigate them. They can also encourage you to go after the opportunities you might be hesitant about pursuing.
3 One more tip is to try to learn more about your fears. What exactly is it that you are afraid of conquering? Why are you afraid of it? Once you know what you are dealing with, it becomes easier to figure out how to move past it.