For some people the unknown can evoke feelings of excitement, but for most of my life the unknown has induced one feeling: fear.
Throughout the majority of my academic years, my body would fill with gripping anxiety before every test. At the starting line of every cross country and track meet in high school I was filled with stress and doubt about whether I would let my team down. Most detrimental for me, the thought of gaining weight during the years I had anorexia was equivalent to the end of the world; it signified a complete loss of self-worth in my eating disorder gripped mind. To say the least, fear ruled my life for most of my middle and high school years, and it almost managed to take over my college experience.
I thought that listening to my fearful thoughts and preparing for the worst would always guard me against the dangers that seemed to lurk around every corner. If I was mentally prepared for failing a test, I wouldn’t be as devastated if it happened. If I believed that every guy I dated was using me or that “all men are immature assholes” I wouldn’t be hurt when things didn’t work out.
But my wakeup call came when I realized that fear itself was killing me.
My eating disorder had stripped me of everything that made me who I am. Food didn’t bring me enjoyment, I had trouble maintaining friendships, I was often horrible to my family, and I was stripped of all passion for life.
For anyone that knows me now, that can seem shocking. Most would describe me as a pretty outgoing and bubbly person, and I am extremely passionate about certain things, the environment particularly (and obvi squirrels).
I was able to take control of my life and become the person that I am proud to be because, as counter-tintuivitive as it may sound, I leaned into fear.
When I got over the fear of looking ugly if I gained weight, I realized how disillusioned that fear had made me. I feel one thousand times more confident and beautiful now that I nourish my body and soul. I feel much less anxious when taking tests because I know that my grade on one exam does not define my self-worth. I can go on a date and not constantly think about how I am being perceived or if I think it will go anywhere because I don’t fear the unknown like it’s a snarling bear sprinting towards me.
When you lean into fear instead of pushing against it with all your might, you have a certain faith in yourself and the universe that is unbreakable. You are acknowledging that you are stronger than anything you encounter on a daily basis, and you emit a light that makes you, in my opinion, one of the most attractive people.
Fear is darkness, and by letting it control your life you too become darkness. But acknowledging it for what it is and still stepping into the unknown is the only way to grow and glow as a person and a soul.
As one of my favorite mantras states: Be the light.