Lately, all I’ve been seeing everywhere is ‘conquer your fears’ or ‘follow your dreams’. And each time, I quickly scroll down or flip to another page, ignoring the ugly burning in my chest that feels a lot like guilt. Then this last time, I saw it. Those two blasted sentences put into one long guilt wracking line.

I yelled out my frustration, and nearly tossed my phone against the wall (but I’m broke so I didn’t- can’t afford any repairs). What exactly is with everyone? Why all the sudden buzz about conquering fears and all? I know we should all be out there conquering our fears but I’m sorry, I don’t know how to.

I think when everyone talks about this, they come up short- because conquering fears is freaking hard. It’s not something that you just put in a sentence. ‘Oh, go out and conquer your fears’. How the heck do we do that? It’s like saying ‘Listen to your heart’- yet another terribly vague, useless advice because, hello, the heart doesn’t talk.

I’m a left-brain kind of person. I like things organized, compartmentalized and broken down into steps (you wouldn’t know it to look at my room but believe me, even with the mess, I know where every paper, thread and button is). Breaking tasks into steps makes a daunting project seem like a bunch of easy-as-cheese projects stringed together. So just pushing it out there ‘Go face your fears’ doesn’t help much. At least, not me.

I can’t say I’m afraid of anything per say. I’m not afraid of spiders, snakes, dogs, fire, thunder or lightening, germs, injections and frankly, I’m shocked that these came out in the search engine when I googled most common fears. I mean dogs? Seriously? But they’re so cute. I do hate frogs though (the way they hop give me the heebie-jeebies) and heights give me a part exhilaration-part fear feeling. Oh, and tight spaces, chokers and basically anything that restricts my breathing is not my thing but I won’t say any of these are paralyzing fears. In fact fears this simple probably won’t stop me from doing anything. But…

Attack Dog Training
Okay, maybe not-so-cute.

What if I’m afraid of failure? Not exams or tests but being a failure at life. What if that’s my paralyzing fear and it keeps me from doing anything- stops me from chasing after my dreams and from making any effort outside of school because I don’t want to fail.

What if I’m afraid of being hurt? How do I take down the lead walls firmly placed around that four-chambered organ in my chest?

What if I’m afraid of letting people down? What if I run away from duty and people and responsibility because I fear that somehow I’d muck things up, let everyone down and everyone would hate me?

What if these fears are so deeply rooted inside me that the mere thought of facing them terrifies me and creates in me a huge paralyzing guilt because I feel that even without trying, I’m already failing at that one thing you ask, letting you down already.

What if that advice has done nothing but create an even bigger fear of fear itself?

One advice, well meant, creating more turmoil that you would ever know.

Think about it. Then maybe send me the step by step version of ‘conquer your fears’.