Follow Your Joy and Smile at the Fear

Positive growth can be painful.

Despite enjoying the learning curve at my new job, I still have very subtle levels of anxiety that seem to creep up on me every so often. I would start to feel like I’m having a panic attack again for no reason, or I would start imagining the worst case scenario coming true.

That just goes to show that even though I’ve been quite happy and grateful for all the blessings I have in my life right now, the anxiety and fear still tunnels through. And I’ve begun to realize that that is okay. That it’s normal to feel fear and anxiety and doubt again, even when you’re at your happiest, because it just means you’re growing. And you’re learning. And you’re becoming more and more of who you really are.

And so, this time around, I understood what I was going through—in the past, I would have said to myself, “Oh my gosh, I wish I was done with these panic attacks already. I thought I had gotten rid of these!” (see On Anxiety). But in truth, the fear and the panic attacks are strong indicators that I’m on to something. And that my ego is fighting it hard. It’s getting desperate. It’s trying to fight off the new change or the growth because it wants to maintain its control over me and my happiness.

I want to tell everyone out there, who is doing something that both terrifies them and excites them, to be okay with the fear for now. Don’t let the fear drive you off course. In fact, the presence of fear is an indicator to keep on going. It’s like trying to remove a knot out of the muscles of your back—you keep pressing where it hurts, and the resistance will eventually release.

Even when it seems like the pain couldn’t get any worse, or you’re experiencing a greater struggle than you could have ever imagined, keep on going. Because this fear will subside. In fact, the fear is smaller and weaker that you really think. Think of fear as a dude with a Napoleon Complex. This guy who comes off as intimidating and scary but is actually quite small and weak in stature. The better part of you will always beat the ego, as long as you keep going and keep pressing where it hurts.

Our comfort zones can have strong brick walls around them, so it’ll take some effort to knock them down to get to the other side. When you encounter that resistance, maintain a warrior-like mindset—you don’t stop and you don’t back down. When the ego continues to throw you all these fearful distractions and panic attacks, it’s a clear sign that its running out of ammo and its getting desperate.

It is important in any personal growth journey to be aware of what the ego can throw at you, so that you don’t get too caught up in it. Know that fear, even extreme bouts of it, is a normal part of growing and becoming more of who you really are. Being mindful of it will prevent you from becoming frustrated with yourself and giving up too early. The fact that you have made so much positive progress doesn’t mean you’ll never feel resistance anymore.  Even when you feel excited and happy about your progress, know that to still feel fear in between is perfectly okay.

I agree with the saying, “follow your joy”. But I want to also add, “and smile at the fear.” Because with every journey, there will be ups and downs, joy and fear, and we must accept this in order to be our best self for the world.

So, follow your joy and smile at the fear.

Kisses and Meows,

Gretchen

Photo by Allef Vinicius on Unsplash

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