Everyone is meant to feel passion in life. Our culture tends to associate passion with relationships exclusively, but passion is simply feeling the fullest expression of love. However, the most common obstacle in the way of living a passionate and fulfilling life is fear. A great friend of mine shared a simple quote with me about how fear manifests in all of us. Fear is simply, False Evidence Appearing Real.
Fear is a powerful emotion that twists our common sense. Life will never give us 100% guarantees for how any situation will turn out, yet our minds easily convince us otherwise when we are blinded by fear. Whether it’s fear of judgement, fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of change, fear of water, or a fear of heights; fear has a way of rendering us helpless if we don’t learn how to conquer it. There is no universal scale to gauge what is considered a small vs significant fear because fear distorts all reality. Without giving us the ability to see other reasonable options or a way out we become paralyzed by our fear. We simply can’t see another solution. Although, just like air, fear can only fill the amount of space you allow it to occupy.
What I’ve come to understand is that our deepest fears can also be our greatest mirrors. They reflect characteristics about ourselves that so often go unseen due to our ability to avoid and deny. We live in a world where we have become masters of suppressing emotions, moving from one distraction to the next in a constant race to outrun our doubts and our problems. Fear is so often the dark cloud that casts permanent shadows on feeling passion, leaving it undetectable from our own hearts. When we live a life in fear, we lose a life of passion. When we learn to acknowledge our problems, navigate through less than desirable emotions and face our fears, we are able to see ourselves in a reflective light of courage, determination and strength.
Passion in life has two forms. Some people have focused passion towards an idea, cause or relationship. Whereas others experience a general passion in life itself, unattached to any specific object or circumstance. I used to envy individuals who had focused passion in life. I found myself feeling jealous of those who devoted themselves to one specific hobby or dream. I spent years wishing and forcing myself to minimize my life down to one passion, yet it never worked, because I was forcing myself to be someone that I wasn’t. And healthy passion only exists when a person is authentic to their own real self. It cannot come from taking on someone else’s idea or intention. When you constantly look to others you reduce yourself to dreaming, but when you look inward you become awake. Our ability to love and connect to this universal passion is not dependent on other people because love and passion is self-generated. Once I accepted that I wasn’t meant to live a life dedicated to a single passion, I was able to appreciate a life dedicated to being passionate about everything.
I honor myself and find joy in many things. I get my feet wet with everything possible because my personal journey in life will always be to learn. On the other side of fear is where you find your confidence. I am proud to say that I am great at a lot of things. However, I probably will never be professional at anything and I am entirely fine with that. I cook and bake. I play guitar and sing. I paint and draw. I find passion in writing and also reading. I garden and make jewelry. I craft and love to make things. I love to hike and be in nature. I love fitness and enjoy biking. I love dancing and swimming. I love meditating and prayer. I love expanding my comfort zone and testing my limits. I love taking risks and challenging myself because in those moments of fear and uncertainty I learn a little more about myself. The risk is worth the reward because I am more scared of living the familiar and predictable than I am of any fear itself.
We all have perimeters for our passions which range from lack of passion to being controlled by a passion, and our comfort zone lies in the middle. An extremely extroverted person quite often may live in a state of emotional intensity and activity, and this is where they are most comfortable. Yet, others take a quiet approach focused on personal activities that don’t necessarily involve a lot of outward expression. However both extroverts and introvert share a mutual perspective. Both like to live in their respective range of emotions within their comfort zone. When we are forced outside of this range, we become uncomfortable and anxious. But the beautiful thing is that whenever we experience a shift in our normal range of feelings, we have succeeded in stretching our perimeters. If we can make it through this change, we expand our boundaries of becoming a more complex and passionate being.
We don’t have anything to gain from playing it safe, except predictability. And life isn’t meant to be predictable. I myself had a huge fear of heights. Sure I can go on a plane, stand on a skyscraper or ride on a rollercoaster but where there is room for personal error there was room for fear. I couldn’t climb a 10 foot ladder without my knees shaking. Last weekend I decided it was time to face that fear and go WELL beyond my comfort zone in an obstacle course. And to push me even further into the fire, I didn’t have anyone beside me to rely on. I was the only one responsible for my safety, and with no safety nets below, the only thing keeping me safe was a simple harness that I clipped to cables along the way. I was so liberated when I finished the course, but when I saw the optional advanced level of the course, I knew I wasn’t out of the woods yet. (Literally and figuratively). I didn’t even hesitate because I knew the feeling of regret if I didn’t do it would outweigh any fear on the course itself. The first obstacle was climbing a 60 foot telephone pole on metal staples followed by a hanging obstacle courses 50 feet above ground.
I was terrified climbing up that pole knowing the uncertainty ahead. It was never a question of fitness for me, that I am confident in. It was the mental game that takes place when facing a fear. One particular obstacle daunted me. Hanging ropes, wooden poles and rings that were spaced far enough apart that the only choice was reaching. As I was right in the middle of the obstacle, one arm grasping a rope, the opposing foot in a small metal ring, it hit me. Fear is only as big as you believe it to be. I had conquered my fear of heights. Had I not tried, I would have never known, never pushed myself, never been able to tell myself that I’m stronger than my fears.
Life is an obstacle course. Often in life we are faced with ladders. Sometimes we climb and move onward and upward towards a higher goal. But inevitably sometimes we are forced to climb in the opposite direction back down to where we thought we wouldn’t be again. Sometimes we walk shaky wooden bridges where we feel unstable and far from being grounded. Life is full of swings that give us sudden rushes when we hold on for dear life and take a leap of faith and are able to see what’s on the other side. Then we are forced to walk tightropes in the moments we struggle to find balance between two areas in life that seem to pull us in different directions. We get thrown into nets in the moments we are desperately grasping at straws and feeling caught and tangled in a web of stress and emotions. The ziplines are the breathtaking and beautiful moments in life that seem to pass all too quickly. Then we come upon the ropes, when we feel like we are stretched past our limits and our goals seem just out of our reach. And the unknown obstacles around the corner is the uncertainty where fear subsides. The fear that can make us walk blindfolded through life missing the beauty. But the only thing that keeps us alive is constantly staying connected to a continuous life line. Be that God, the Universe, a Divine Power, a goal or an idea. Don’t detach from life because of fear. Because it’s on the other side of fear that you find your confidence and passion.
Fear is not real. It is the product of thoughts. Danger is very real, but Fear is a Choice ~ Author Unknown