By Miranda Chop
Most of the time, I am scared.
I feel frightened, wary and angry, and sad, lost and confused—and really scared. I am not brave or courageous. I say things other people wouldn’t say and I believe things other people don’t believe, but that doesn’t make me brave. I’ve never been persecuted for my religion. I wasn’t even bothered by the funny looks I got in grade school when I couldn’t accept the birthday cupcake every kid was due.
I relished those looks.
I loved the opportunity to tell my peers how different I was, how faithful my religion made me. (She must really love God, to give up a cupcake!) That’s not bravery. That is fear. Fear of being the same, fear of being pitied. FEAR.
I don’t follow blind faith to know that I am safe. I follow because I am too afraid to lead. I’m afraid I don’t know the way and I’ll end up more lost in life’s labyrinth if I make a false move. Moving forward, backward, sideways: all movement is scary. Not moving is even more frightening. I follow what I think fits me best, but always with one eye on my other options; one foot out the door in case the other shoe suddenly drops or the bottom falls out beneath my thin illusion of safety and sanity.
I am vulnerable. I feel shame.
I get angry. (I know better than this.) My anger spits at me and taunts me, unrelenting. I am angry when I don’t know what to do. I am angry when the light doesn’t come on in that part of my brain responsible for showing me the truth of me. I am angry when my world is turned upside down and I see that I am a coward.
I hate being a coward. I am afraid of being a coward.
Recognizing that I am a coward isn’t enough. I cannot accept this as my fate. Fear is holding me back from something important (I know this much). Fear and all the ugly crying, sweating, and knee-knocking that comes with it keeps me awake, restless, and afraid. What if I can’t fix this? What if I never grow out of this? What if I am always afraid? What if my fear drives away everyone I love?
Many people have been tested by me. Always jumping through hoops and bringing me fruit baskets of truce and love and peace, never understanding why they have to prove themselves to me. (Haven’t I done enough? Haven’t I earned your trust and proven my love?) Some people give up quickly and I am relieved. I push people away because they scare me. I draw them back in because I am afraid of not having them. It is hard for me to accept that someone might like me, or even love me, just as I am. It is hard for me to love me as I am.
I don’t like this. It doesn’t feel like the real me. Fear is the intruder. Not my knowledge that I am perfect in every moment. Not the peace that comes with believing everything happens for a reason and I am always safe and loved unconditionally. That is real. That is true. Fear is a lie—a lie I can’t seem to prove false.
I don’t want to believe in fear anymore. I don’t want to accept that this is just the way I am. I refuse to give in to fear out of fear. I believe in growth and evolution and I know I can be brave. I can find the courage I need to be my best self and live the highest vision I have of myself. I can wake up one morning, unafraid of what the day may bring.
Maybe I’ll do it tomorrow. For now, I am still afraid. I still jump at my shadow and regret my words and struggle with not telling myself what a coward I really am. Most of the time, I am scared.
I just thought you should know.
Miranda Chop is a writer in Fort Worth, Texas. She’s good at being an auntie, cooking and reading. Accepting the present moment as it is makes her feel good. Resisting it makes her feel bad. Most days, she prefers to feel good. She also shares at her blogs here and here and also on Medium.
Editor: Dana Gornall
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