Fearful Woman, Phenomenal Woman
I am afraid of many things. When I was younger, I feared not making friends or being uncool. As I grew older, fear became being alone, being fat, being incapable.
Fear has governed my life in countless ways. I wear long-sleeved shirts and pants even in the dead of summer, because I’m afraid my body does not measure up to some standard. I stayed in an unhealthy relationship for over a year because I feared being alone. I put off driving tests, dates, and job applications for fear of failure, and having my worst suspicions confirmed: that maybe I am not good enough.
The fear of inadequacy. That has easily been my life’s greatest torment thus far. It has made it so that even in the face of my greatest accomplishments, I cannot give myself the credit I would happily shower on someone else. For the women in my life, friends and family, each failure, each mistake is merely a hiccup on their road to greatness. For myself, each failure is a stinging reminder that I should never have even tried. For others, each achievement is more proof of their light and potential. For myself, each success is not proof of merit, but rather some random stroke of good luck, sure to pass as quickly as it arrived.
I don’t know when I became so afraid, or why. My mother is intelligent, confident, and has encouraged nothing but the same in both of her children. Fear is so far from the example on which I was raised that to own this identity, to admit to myself that I am a fearful woman feels like a failure in and of itself. How do I share this part of myself without disappointing or worrying the people that love me?
Never have I been as afraid as I’ve been in the last year. Graduating college, I had a healthy amount of anxiety. The “what am I going to do with my life” anxiety familiar to anyone embarking on a new chapter of life. A year has gone by and I have not yet landed a full-time job. I’ve watched friends and classmates start careers and move into apartments, and now I’m watching as the next class does the same. And so here I sit, my worst fears about my inadequacy being manifested in rejection after rejection. Rejection from jobs, from opportunities and relationships. I have an amazing support system of family and friends that encourage me to see my own potential, but none of it matters if the voice in the back of my head says otherwise.
Where do I go from here?
I believe the only way to stop being afraid is to live fearlessly. Starting this project is a step in that direction. I want to challenge myself and others to realize that we can surpass our own expectations. I want to confront my fears by acknowledging them openly and publicly. Maybe in encouraging others to sing their greatness, I’ll one day be able to sing my own. I want us to shine so brightly for each other that we’re forced to see our own light.
Facing your fears is a daily battle. It’s about recognizing your worth, and doing your best work both for yourself, and for your family, friends, God, or whatever higher power in which you believe. When we’re young, we have all these dreams and big ideas. As we grow older, those big ideas become more and more ridiculous, unattainable. Take a moment to stop and think about how many dreams and opportunities you’re stealing from yourself, from that little you, every time you tell yourself you can’t do something. I believe that God plants ideas inside of us, because He wants to see us reach them. So why are we telling Him that He is wrong?
I believe that God has led me to this project, to this moment and these words so that I may learn to be gentle with myself. I am on a journey, and I will fall, but that does not mean I am incapable. I am a work in progress, I am “to be continued,” and that is scary, but it’s also okay.
'Cause I am a fearful woman. Phenomenally. Phenomenal woman, that's me.