The Courage to Feel Fear

Let me paint the scene I am currently experiencing for you:

It’s May 8. My boyfriend leaves tomorrow for his 6 month season as a backpacking guide in Yosemite. I just finished an intense and difficult 45 minute yoga flow focusing on power holds and hip opening. I finish the yoga flow, and began to sob uncontrollably for a good 30 minutes as my boyfriend holds me and witnesses the full expression of my vulnerability. I cycle through about a million different emotions, chief among them being fear, anxiety, dread, excitement, deep sadness, and even deeper gratitude. As I look around the rooms of my apartment, I see flashes of scenes I’ve shared with Mike over the past 3 years… snuggling on the couch, singing Eagles songs loudly while making tacos, getting pissed off at each other over board games (or, me getting pissed at him, and him just taking it), hugging each other inconveniently while the other brushes their teeth…

I have lived in Austin for 9 years, 5 of them tied up into this foundationally screwed apartment I now sit in. For all of it’s cracks, cockroaches, broken cabinets, and loose floorboards, this was the first place I moved into as a young woman, freshly graduated with my degree in music education. The walls of this place witnessed countless hours of loud music sung on the couch with friends, tearful emotional releases after failed relationships, wine-drunk evenings grazing on potato chips and avocado toast. This is the home where I raised my dog and absolute best friend, Poppy. From the time she was just a tiny potato pup nugget to a fully grown, almost 5 year old dog, she’s shared every memory in this place with me. This is the first home I shared with my partner, Mike. The place where we fell in love, learned to trust, and dared to dream of greater things and wild adventures.

So as Mike packs up all of his things and condenses them down into a size that will fit into the Prius that we will live in together, I feel fear. And sadness. And regret. And gratitude… and all of the things at once that cause me to ugly-cry and open-mouth sob. For as excited as I am for this new chapter of life, I am also completely terrified. Giving up all of the comfort, security, possessions, and stability that I’ve culminated these past 9 years is pretty shattering to my nervous system. I have always viewed myself as a creature of comfort…. someone who loves to know what’s coming next and what I can expect from any situation. So giving up my job, apartment, lifestyle, and city in pursuit of not knowing where I’m going or what I’ll be doing tomorrow definitely doesn’t come easily or naturally to me. I feel fear over it not working out. I feel sadness to leave this place. I feel anxiety over the next 3 weeks as I pack up all of my belongings to fit into something the size of my current closet. I feel regret that I didn’t appreciate the place I live in more while I still had the time to marvel at how amazing it is that I built this life for myself. I feel excitement, of course, to embark upon a new chapter of life, and a deep sense of gratitude for all of the memories, people, experiences, and lessons learned while safely tucked away inside this 850 square foot unit. I also feel the immense privilege that comes with being able to make this decision, which comes with a double whammy of gratitude and uncomfortable guilt.

I give all of this context to bring out one point: it takes a tremendous amount of willpower and courage to allow yourself to feel fear. So many times in my life, I have felt fear, a flash of anxiety, and then resorted to self-soothing methods like binging TV, drinking too much wine, shoveling $15 worth of taco bell into my face, or busying myself with cleaning or hanging out with friends. These methods kept me comfortably removed from my own problems and shortcomings for years, and I don’t regret those years spent in distraction. Eventually that feeling of distraction led to a feeling of lostness and confusion, which led me to begin searching and questioning everything. That questioning led me to the realization that the best way to navigate through life and emotions successfully is by fully feeling them in each moment. Happiness, anger, sadness, fear, anxiety… they’re all meant to be FELT, not avoided and ignored. And so, as I find myself in this period of immense change and upheaval of my norm, I also find myself breaking down into hysterics at the drop of a hat. And I love it. I’m so grateful for every feeling as it comes up. They don’t always feel easy or graceful, but the full expression of each emotion has enabled me to consciously take each step forward with certainty and a deep knowing that even when things get hard, it will all be okay. Everything will always be okay.

I think I honestly wrote this post more for myself than for the viewing of anyone else, but since you’re here, if you find yourself in a moment of fear, uncertainty, depression, anxiety…. breathe. I know that sounds so cliche and predictable, but truly. Breathe, let yourself feel what you feel fully, and if that means that you’re swallowing your own snot because you’re crying so insanely hard, or laughing like a mad-man because your joy is so limitless, or gasping through sobs as you shake with tears of gratitude… just feel it. Feeling can be terrifying and can bring up so many things that you may not have thought about in a long time, but it’s always worth it in the end. So to quote my boyfriend quoting Game of Thrones:

“Bran thought about it. ‘Can a man still be brave if he’s afraid?’
‘That is the only time a man can be brave,’ his father told him.”

So many thanks and joy to you for reading through this and going on this emotional journey with me. I am thankful that you’re here, and I’m thankful to share with you through this blog. Enjoy your day, and step forward knowing that you’re loved by me and every emotion you have is beautiful and valid.

Sincerely,

–M

Published by the_happy_hiker :)

I am a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, turned elementary music teacher, turned full-time Hotel Prius nomad. I live in my 2013 Prius with my partner, Mike, and our spunky pup, Poppy. I revel in backpacking, yoga, spiritual connection, and music and seek out opportunities to learn new things and expand. Really just another granola hippie fulfilling the stereotype.

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