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I’m using the “H” word

I don’t use the “hate” word for much — because if there’s one thing I know, it’s that the things (and people) I dislike most in life also teach me the most.

But I HATE fear. Just flat out hate it.

And I’m not talking about the kind of fear that keeps me alive. I’m talking about the kind of fear that keeps me from living.

We could call it insecurity, but that evokes body image specifically and I’m speaking of way more than that. I’m thinking of every single “what if” I have in my head every day of my life . . . What if I’m wrong? What if I say something stupid? What if I fail? What if it doesn’t turn out according to plan? What if I get rejected? What if I’m embarrassed? What if I wear the wrong thing? What if they hurt me? What if they’re judging me? What if I make a mistake? What if I never get “there”? What if I never have it all together? What if I never become the responsible adult who always makes the bed?

My favorite instructor in aesthetics school was a fantastic 50-something blonde-bobbed woman named Saundra. She had spent much of the 80s working the cosmetics counters for European skin care lines and had a supervisor with a thick accent who instructed her counter girls not to smile or make any other faces, as this would lead to lines and wrinkles. Stone-faced expressions were encouraged at all times. The industry version of mom’s “if you keep making that face it will freeze that way.”

How many times in life have I stopped myself from doing something I wanted to do because I was AFRAID of the consequences? Afraid of what people may think. Afraid I may fail. Afraid I may look stupid. Afraid to hear “I told you so.”

I had a conversation recently with a smartypants psychologist friend and let her in on the odd way (I thought) that I’ve started dealing with fear: I ask myself, “What’s the worst that could happen?” Her surprising response was that this is actually a pretty healthy mechanism.

Post cancer, I decided I would never let fear make my decisions. Easier said than done. So much self-editing. So much second-guessing. I remind myself daily that the only thing worse than fear is regret.

It’s a new year and, while I’m not big on resolutions, I’m all for mindful self-improvement. Everyday. And my favorite thing about being as real as I can possibly be is that it gives the people around me permission to be real. To be 100% themselves. To share their stuff. And that…that is LIFE. And I won’t let fear keep me from living it.

Happy 2015, Milagrans.


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