I live in a great deal of fear. I was going to backspace and add “with fear” rather than “in fear,” but I very much and very often live IN it. It’s the basic first-world stuff. I’m afraid my career won’t be enough. Afraid to be around too many people. Afraid I won’t be around enough people. Afraid to fail. Afraid to make wrong choices.
A few months ago, JD received a really great job offer — in San Francisco. My immediate reaction was “No! Just, NO.” We had a full life in Denver. We had plans there. How could he ask us to leave? But I looked into the bright blue eyes I fell in love with almost 10 years ago, and I knew my answer would be yes.
We spent weeks listing the pros and cons before finally deciding to go for it. We made that decision together. So it bothered me that, months later, I was so afraid and a little angry about the move. It had been my choice. I gave the OK. Why was I so resentful?
“Well, did you really have a choice?” my therapist asked one day. Of course I did! JD told me he wouldn’t even consider it if I wasn’t interested … But would I ever really have done that to him? Would I have told him to forget about a really great opportunity just because I was afraid to leave Denver? Of course not. And in that way, it’s true, I never really had a choice.
I realized I hadn’t really made a lot of big decisions in my own life. As someone who was married by 23, I went from a structured and protective family, right into a partnership with my husband. And we made a lot of decisions — together.
Together is what brought us through spending a year living in Cairo, Egypt. It’s what brought us through our first married year in DC grappling to find jobs during the recession. It’s what brought us to Denver, where we found success, healing, and a community of friends who were unfailingly good to us. And now it’s what’s brought us to San Francisco.
Not all of those decisions were my own. Some of them were compromises, and most of them scared me. Which brings me back to fear. Once I realized why I was angry about the move, I wanted to know why it scared me so much. “Not all fear is bad,” my therapist offered. Running toward my fears had led me to a great deal of good in my life. If I hadn’t pushed past fear, I would never have left my hometown, I wouldn’t have taken my first job as a copywriter, I wouldn’t have married JD. Fear has given me some of the sweetest things in my life. What if I started leaning into it a bit?
Maybe this move wasn’t really my choice, and maybe, even three weeks in, it scares me a little. But I couldn’t have imagined the love and light that engulfed us in Colorado, so maybe there’s a little of that waiting for us here.
So here I am. Back in a basement apartment, in a new town, scared shitless, but doing it. Sometimes fear pushes us towards the good in life. So maybe we should stop, well, fearing it. What good things has fear brought you?