For much of my life, Fear has had a part in every motivation, action, and decision. The problem is that until recently, I didn’t recognize it.
I may have been slow to recognize this, because in many areas, I’ve considered myself to be fairly brave, superficially speaking. I had no problem leaving my small hometown for college, skipping the chance to stay home at our local university. I traveled in and out of the country, choosing to see the world. After college, I applied to jobs in 8 different states, open and willing to start out wherever someone would pay me to show up to work each day.
The fear I’m addressing is more deeply-rooted…and for years it was invisible to me. It’s a fear that can produce good actions, and can easily pass as hard-working, in-control, and motivated. It’s a fear that has quietly simmered under the surface as I’ve formed my identity as a person.
It’s a fear that has kept me from risking anything I wasn’t sure I could completely handle, master, or succeed doing.
It’s a fear that has begged me to look outward, rather than inward, to see if I’m passing by external factors.
It’s a fear that Motivated me to do the right thing only because I was scared-to-death to do it wrong.
In reality, this influence in my life is probably two-fold: a natural perfectionist, people-pleasing personality that needs to be attended to coupled with a very conservative upbringing that I misunderstood, sprinkling fear into the fabric of my life.
Personally, I’ve seen my personality struggle with this for years. In some ways, fear kept me from dreaming. When you’re scared to fail, your dreams shrink to manageable dreams, perhaps defeating the purpose of dreams.
If I short-change my dreams because I’m scared to fail, then my successes aren’t quite as pure. Indeed, the question would always be “Where would I be without the boundary of fear keeping me in this box?”
Fear has influenced some of my relationships, creating a motivation to “do” things right for fear of failing relationally or losing the relationship rather than “being” in the relationship.
If I stop listening to my own wants and desires, instead seeking out the constant needs of others due to intense private fear of loss or failure, not pure love, my relationship is fragile and at risk. I short-change myself of the opportunity to love and be loved fully.
Now, I will be the first one to admit that Fear has, at times, produced arguably positive actions in me, but for an entirely negative reason.
I Know now that Fear is a terrible motivator.
In my religious background, I didn’t recognize how much fear was motivating me to action. Bible verses about “perfect love casting out all fear” would enter my mind intellectually, and would be applied to superficial situations for me. However, I never truly examined the role of fear in my life.
Even then, there were signs.
At 11 years old, I was crying myself to sleep at night, because after attending a fairly strict youth experience, I believed every error or sin I committed was proof I was not a “true believer” and was going to hell.
Even as a normal teen with interest for and from guys, I’d never date, afraid that I would “go to far” or “end up” in a relationship with someone who didn’t take his faith as seriously.
I’d wear incredibly modest clothing, because I was scared to “make a brother stumble”. This had lasting impacts on me, making my path to healthy womanhood even harder.
If I am so scared to “cross a line” that I don’t allow myself to be me fully, then I deny myself the opportunity to learn about myself, as I am, with self-acceptance.
I’m not in a place to analyze my actions. I feel uneqipped to handle those right now with where I am in my journey. What I can say is that the motivation that led me to those actions was completely harmful, destructive and negative.
I want to live a life free of fear so I can freely choose my actions, not pursue due to fear.
Then, I didn’t realize that many of my decisions, actions and thoughts were motivated by fear. Now, I know that Fear is not a successful motivator for pure action.