What Would You Do If You Weren’t Afraid?
I promise, this isn’t a post about whether to Lean In or lean out or bend over or do the limbo. There has been a ton of thought-provoking and divisive stuff written on this topic, and I’m not going there. At least not today.
But I am going to talk about a video Sheryl Sandberg posted and blogged about on leanin.org yesterday. It’s a 3-minute video called “What Would You Do If You Weren’t Afraid?,” and it includes short clips from a diverse group of women talking candidly about their fears and what they’d do if they weren’t afraid. Targeted at this year’s million+ female college graduates, the video is refreshingly devoid of the working/stay-at-home mom dialogue that has defined LeanIn to date. Instead, it’s a video for all of us. It spoke to me, and I’d bet that the notion of having and overcoming fear is something every woman I know (and actually, every man I know) can relate to.
I think this particularly resonated because Wellfesto is one of my “What Would I Do If I Weren’t Afraid” things. Despite deeply caring about and voraciously learning about health and well-being since I was a little girl, I never had the courage to put my voice out into this crowded space. I told myself things like “I’m not a doctor, so people won’t listen to me.” “I’m not a writer, so why should I start a blog.” “I might offend someone.” “I might say the wrong thing.” “People will think I’m stupid.” “What if I don’t have anything new to say?” “What if I can’t keep up my commitment to it?” And I let the thoughts and questions and ideas swirling around in my head stay inside my head for years.
Finally, in December, I decided I wanted to say them out loud. I started to gain confidence that I actually do have a unique point-of-view about well-being. I realized I was in the midst of a struggle so many people live every day — how to take care of myself while trying to take care of a family — and I thought there was more to gain from being in the public eye that there was to lose. I’ve now been writing every weekday for almost six months. Some posts feel great and some don’t. Sometimes hundreds of people read my posts and sometimes three do. Sometimes no one comments and sometimes I get warm messages from random people who came across a post they related to. And all of that is OK. It’s more than OK. It’s empowering and awesome and real and hard and fun.
We all have fear. It makes us human. It’s what we use to keep us safe. I still have loads of it. But I’m slowly learning that when you let go of fear, you leave more room for joy. So if you haven’t asked yourself the question lately, do it today.
What would you do if you weren’t afraid? And what can you do right now…in this very moment…to take a step toward doing that very thing?
Great post, Brynn. I’m trying to live my life fearlessly as well, since I’m starting to really come to terms with the fact that I’m more middle aged than not! Seems like “now or never” is pretty damn accurate. 🙂 I love that Wellfesto is a ‘no fear’ project for you. You should feel incredible about the fact that it’s by all counts A SUCCESS. xox
thanks for the comment and encouragement! oh…and we’re not middle aged. wouldn’t your father-in-law argue we might live forever? 🙂
Wow! What a thought provoking question. I find it much easier to pursue and challenge my physcial fears ie., fear of heights rather than challenging social and emotional fears ie., social anxiety, fear of failure, of not fitting in, of looking stupid, of defeat, etc…How many dreams are squashed and never become reality as a result of fear? I know I have let 3 major dreams go by because I lacked the support of family and friends, I lacked self confidence and was too afraid to stand up and go it alone. I love that you have challenged us to think about those fears and choose to do something each day to conquer them. I’m placing this quote on my mirror as a daily reminder to challenge myself and to learn to accept failure as a part of the journey to success
Thanks for the feedback. I agree — that question makes you go straight into a deep, challenging and honest place. All the best!