When I opened my studio this spring, a friend of mine said to me, “you are so fearless.” I’ve seen the use of this word on so many inspirational posters and believe many of us think we should strive to be fearless. But what is fear? And why should we be without it?

Early in the year, I was with a good friend of mine when she told me a friend of hers died suddenly. This young woman was in midlife, she was a mother, wife and beloved friend. My friend was clearly shaken at this news but the thing that struck her was how her husband shared the disheartening news. He spoke not about how tragic it was, which he clearly could have, but instead focused on how grateful he was for the time he and his children had with her. We were all in awe of his perspective. This summer, I got to meet this husband. We spoke about her death. We spoke about how he had to face his greatest fear of losing someone he dearly loved. And what struck me was how he talked about confronting this fear and seeing what was on the other side. It had only been about six months…

I knew when my friend called me fearless that it wasn’t true. I am not fearless. I live with the same fears I had before I went on my journey last fall. The only difference between how I used to live with them before versus now is that I know what’s on the other side. My business is my purpose, it is an extension of me. It has evolved as I have evolved and every time I put myself out there, I feel fear. Every time I get an idea and put it into motion, I feel fear. When I talk to a potential client, schedule an event, go to events where I don’t know anyone, I feel the same fear. I feel fear because there is that part of me, deep inside, who is scared of failing, of being rejected. There is that part of me that believes failure is proof, confirmation that I am not good enough. And while I feel fear, I do it anyway because the biggest difference between then and now is that I realize I have a choice. We can’t control our feelings but we can control what we do about them. Fear is uncomfortable. It makes us feel like quitting so we won’t have to experience failure. It is so much easier not to try. But I’ve spent enough years not trying and wanting to feel safe. So instead of comfort and safety, I make a choice. Instead of letting the fears debilitate me, I focus on what’s on the other side. Whether there is success or failure with everything I do, I learn a lesson and it helps me get to the next step. And every time, the fear gets a little easier to feel. It doesn’t completely go away but that’s okay because fear is an important part of me. It lets me know where I need to go next to grow, to stretch, to live to my fullest potential and show up as my truest self. And now, fear is my compass.

So here I am scheduling Coffee with Intention monthly even though I fear no one will come, talking to women who are interested in having Transformative Portrait experiences even though I fear they’ll say no, starting a WomanSpeak circle even though I fear I won’t be able to lead. I do whatever my gut, my intuition, guides me to do. Everything I do comes with fear and it is because of that fear that I know I am on the right path. I’ve faced my fears and I’ve seen what’s on the other side. Do you know what’s there? We talked about this…he and I, the man who had only lost his wife six months ago. On the other side of that fear is the feeling of being fully alive and present, of seeing what it is we are truly capable of. Because we have only scratched the surface of our potential. And now this man makes it his daily practice to push himself to the limit. He pushes his mental and physical body beyond what he thinks is possible… What’s on the other side, he wonders?

When I went on my journey, I envisioned myself doing a TedTalk, which I’ve talked about before and I’ve finally decided to apply to TedX next year. Speaking has been one of my greatest fear so what is the scariest thing I could do? Whether or not I succeed is irrelevant. It’s about facing the fear and seeing my potential. What’s on the other side I wonder? And while the fear is still there, I don’t fight it anymore. I surrender to it. That doesn’t mean giving up. It means accepting it as an important part of me and it makes me realize how grateful I am for it. Thank you fear for giving me new opportunities to grow. To reach. To fly…

So next time you feel fear, surrender to it. Know that you will never be fearless. You will never feel ready. But that’s the goal…to accept it as a part of who you are and then thank it for guiding you. Because I’ve seen the other side and do you know what’s there? It is your truest self. It is who you’re meant to be. You have a choice. Surrender. Accept. Move forward. You were meant to be amazing. You were meant to make an impact in this world. You matter.

This is from a personal journal writing shared in the newsletter and typically not shared on the blog. To read these, subscribe to the “I Matter” newsletter below.