What if your fear is right


In the middle of the night, fear can taunt me with that thought.

I woke up this morning with its voice loud in my ear.

You know what that's like, when the sunlight seems unable to scare away the demons that haunt you at 3am.

I tried my usual tricks to silence fear's voice -- singing two songs at once (you think I'm kidding, but it works), counting sit-ups out loud and keeping myself occupied. Laundry at 7am, anyone?

Then it hit me.

It's time to look at what I'm afraid of.

There's a list. I'm ugly, I won't be successful, no one likes me, and your generic impending doom.

Taking a page out of my I'm Scared & Doing it Anyway playbook, sometimes you have to look at the monster in your closet to see what it really is.

I know it's mostly my imagination, and won't be as scary as it seems right now.

The easiest way to do that? Imagine the worse case scenario.

What if fear is right:  I am ugly, I am not successful, no one likes me, and disaster is right around the corner.

That would suck, but not as much as you would think!

As a friend said, if I'm grotesquely ugly—the Hunchback of Bethesda, he called me—I will just find a bell tower to hang out in.

The last I checked, though, children didn't run screaming in horror in my presence, and I have been asked out on dates. Ergo, this must not be true.

What is true is that I'm not a supermodel. I'll live with that disappointment. And, stock up on eye cream.

Next, what if I'm not successful? If no one hires me as their coach, I go into deep debt, this wonderful experiment fails.

This worst case scenario always leads me to the same place—sleeping on my childhood twin bed in my parents' house. I will not end up destitute. I will end up back in corporate America. 

Oh the horror! Er, not so much.

What's more is that 'success' expands far beyond finances. When I'm scared the definition narrows considerably.

If I see it fully, I see that I'm already successful. I've helped people change their lives, and stepped far beyond my comfort zone to accomplish big goals.

This fear is not about success at all, but about not making enough money. Looking at the worst case scenario I see that I will make enough, one way or another.

Boom, two down.

No one likes me falters the moment I look at it.

The friend who called me a Hunchback? He's taken so many crazed 3am calls from me, if he didn't like me he would have chosen sleep a long time ago. Unless he's using my calls as research (very possible), he's my friend for life. And there are more friends just like him.

What's true about that fear: the more I put myself out in the world, the more people I know. Not everyone is going to think I'm the greatest.

That's new territory, therefore scary. But, I will always have people I can count on, and I know the difference.

Impending doom. Sometimes it's laughable. I picture myself as Chicken Little screeching through the town square.

The nagging fear of doom starts its slow and steady creep the moment I step out of my comfort zone. 

How about traveling alone for six weeks through Europe? Standing in front of hundreds of strangers talking about my brain tumor? Hugging people on TV?

The sky most assuredly will fall. I will fail miserably, be laughed at and ridiculed, or I will be wildly successful and not able to handle it. Yes, sometimes I can fear those extremes at the same time.

Failure and ridicule both take me back to my twin bed. Hiding out for a while to regain my bearings. Down, but never out.

Wildly successful takes me one of two places -- unable to handle it meaning failure (cue the twin bed), or more happy than I can imagine.

If it's the latter, I will learn to 'deal' with it. Somehow.

Using a worst case scenario, fear doesn't stand a chance.

No matter what happens, I'm left with people who love me, a roof over my head and the ability to handle things as best as I can.

That truth, and a phone call, can chase away most any demon at 3am.