Thankfully, Lent is over so now I can go back to being afraid of what people think of me and worry about how badly I will screw up my life if I don’t do everything just right.
What a relief!
Because this experience was confusing to some, here is a FAQ that should cover basic questions:
1. Why fear? What are you afraid of?
I’m not the worrying type and I didn’t see how fear was much of an obstacle in my being who I was made to be. But it turns out my worrier was hiding in some type of an interior cleaning closet, filled with crusty mops and bottles of unlabeled cleaning solutions. So this was an experiment of sorts.
2. What did you expect to learn and how did that compare with what you did learn?
I identified three main fears to face: fear of what others think of me, fear of coming up empty (not having enough energy, creativity, time, love) and a fear of messing up. I expected to have the Most Exciting Story Ever at the end — that I would have gone skydiving with a celebrity and confronted a street gang who in turn became a love gang. But that did not happen.
Instead, I learned that I love and time and creativity and energy multiply when you use them instead of disappearing. I still panicky sometimes that today will be an exception to that rule. I learned that most people are pretty much okay with me or, to my utter egotistical dismay, that they haven’t really given much thought to the matter. This means I can usually go ahead and do what I want. And I learned that I try way too hard 97% of the time.
3. What do you have now that you didn’t have before giving up fear?
I have some fun memories with my kids. I found out that fear makes me grumpy and tired and say “no” a lot.
I have the best people in my life. They were already in it, I guess, but I didn’t notice how thoughtful and funny and wise and great they were.
I have a blog again. I decided to write every day because I have been afraid that I had nothing to say, that I didn’t have enough time and that I was delusional (or at least that everyone would think so).
I have a couple extra pounds. Life is too short and food is too delicious to let a fear of my pants-size steal my sanity.
I have a new volunteer gig at an after school program.
4. What is the craziest thing you did because you gave up fear?
I had an impromptu Pi(e) Day with around 20 awesome people. I talked to three homeless people and went and bought flowers for one of them (even though I didn’t know how exactly that was suppose to help her out). I let my kids act like grown-ups for a day. I took communion at my first Ash Wednesday service (even though I didn’t know if I was supposed to). And I got to enjoy some pretty great people, from friends to strangers to a couple Grammy winners/nominees (even though that last bit was part of my job and I probably would’ve done it anyway). No one would buy that book, I know, but these are things I’m glad I did.
5. So are you cured of fear now?
No. But it’s better than it was. It’ll probably get worse again too, but then there’s always Lent next year and I can give it up again if I want.