Tonight’s shot (or possibly two) of vodka reminded me of this myth I see often perpetuated on the Great World Wide Webby; the myth of fearlessness. It’s everywhere. Every eMagazine and mood board and “inspirational quote” on that there Pinterest thingy is tooting about fearlessness. And let me tell ya… it’s all bunk.
Yes. Your Old Aunt Floozy is here to tell you why fearlessness a big ole pile of unattainable bull crap and why trying to be fearless is what’s making you miserable and your life full of fail. So read further only if you want to be happier in your life AND get what’s yours. Because getting the things you want out of life has nothing to do with fearlessness.
So. You still here? Here’s why fearlessness is crock: you need fear. Being fearless would mean somehow magically getting rid of fear, an entire human emotion, a physical reaction that is the base of a lot if not ALL of our actions (don’t quote me on this. I might be a floozy, but I’m not a medical professional). It sounds cool, right? “Fearless”. Like you’ve somehow attained a higher level of existence and now Have No Weaknesses (TM). It’s not cool though. Experiencing fear is not a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of being alive. Suppressing your emotions to the point where you think you’re not experiencing fear anymore is all kinds of messed up. And it robs you of a very valuable learning tool. And you do want to learn, right? I mean, that’s kind of like a basic thing moving through life. Fire burns, you learn. Water is wet, you learn. Not breathing you pass out, you learn. Besides learning to fear the obvious things so as to stay alive (like, tigers and falling from high places and guns), fear also teaches you to act in other ways. If you don’t move to get food, you will die. If you don’t work, you will not have money nor opportunities. If you don’t teach your kids how to cook and clean for themselves, THEY might die buried under a pile of discarded fast food packages. If you don’t turn in that paper today, you will fail the course. If you don’t talk to your boss now, you will not get the job. Fear is an important catalyst and it’s a natural and inherent reaction in all living things. You physically cannot remove it and striving to remove it you will fail and you will get discouraged and blame yourself and feel like shit…. all because you were trying to get rid of something that’s as much an integral part of you as your circulatory system. Moments of absolutely no fear can be experienced every now and then. Mostly when you’re lying on your back and on vacation.
By this point I can see you raising your hand and going “But Aunt Floozy, when I think about scary stuff I just freeze! Like fuck, zombie tigers are terrifying!”. You are absolutely right, my little monkey butt. There are several different ways people react to fear: sometimes you’re the opossum and fear makes you freeze and look really really dead. You’re probably not though. Stop freaking your parents out with that. It’s not funny. Also don’t poke dead looking opossums with a stick. They’re probably just faking it. Sometimes you’ll be like an ostrich and you run away and hide when you’re afraid… though I’m pretty sure it’s already been proven ostriches don’t really do that. And sometimes you’re like frightened cat in a corner and you lash out and eat someone’s face when you’re scared enough. I’d also suggest you don’t do this. It’s just rude. As you can see, none of these options are good in the long run. How should you deal with fear then, if you’re not allowed to strive for fearlessness?
By being brave. You can’t get rid of fear. You can’t avoid things that scare you. In fact, some of the best things in life will fucking terrify you! Not zombie tigers. I mean like, being in love or starting a new career or some shit. That’s scary AF. You will feel fear. But you can do the thing anyway. Cultivate being brave. Feel the fear. Let it wash over you like a bukake party. Breathe deep and and tell yourself “Well this shit is goddamn scary and it’s making me feel uncomfortable” and you’ll notice your brain might ask you “Dude, my buddy, what’s scary about it?”. Talking to yourself inside your head is actually totally therapeutic and everyone does it so this bit is cool and good. Then you think about the specific things that scare you and best and worst case scenarios. Like if you’re in love with someone and you’re thinking about telling them it might go like this: worst case = you tell them and spontaneously combust on the spot going up like Chinese firework factory. Best case = they totez love you back and immediately splurt out a gallon of roe and you spawn some weird hybrid human-fish race together that takes over the world with the power of your love. At this point your brain’s gonna tell you that both of those things are probably not going to happen and what’s likely to go down is somewhere in the middle. Yeah, you might get really hurt, but unless they pull a gun on you, you’re not going to die even if they don’t love you back. Taking your fear apart like this, being honest to yourself that yeah, you’re scared, somehow through the magic of zen psychology makes the initial sharp edge of the fear pass quicker. It’ll also give you some perspective on how terrified you really should be, let you move on from being paralyzed by fear quicker and get on with Doing the Thing sooner. And the sooner you Do The Thing, the sooner you Get What’s Yours.
Be Brave. Fuck fearlessness. Don’t be an emotionally stunted human wreck. And don’t drink to be brave. Drink after you Do The Thing to celebrate your bravery.