The Rhythm of Fear and Courage

Courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is the willingness to act in SPITE of my fear.
— Michael Hyatt

When I quit my job teaching first grade, nearly two years ago now, I was scared. I felt like a little girl... like my 5-year-old self on the first day of kindergarten or my 10-year-old self giving my first class presentation. I felt the very same tightness in my chest and the many tears welling in my eyes.

As I sat in the Head of School's office for what seemed like a lifetime, there were moments of physical paralysis that hid the violent movement of my mind.

"Should I quit? What would the families think? And the faculty and staff?  They will lose respect for me, and I won't be able to recover. No one will hire me after this. What will I do? How will I support myself in San Francisco?"

There was a moment when I felt like I would be forever stuck in this swirling vortex of despair. You see, the nature of the mind is to move and to wander, and it likes to attach to thoughts of the past or thoughts and expectations for the future. This is the ego, a state of suffering, and its aim is to limit and hold you back from your inherent GREATNESS.

"Meredith, Sally is ready for you."

The assistant to the Head of School lifted my trance, and I found the rise and fall of the rhythm of my breath. I was able to shift my attention to the truth of the present moment, and in THAT moment I knew I was not happy. Teaching and being in the classroom had previously brought me energy, satisfaction, and joy. But in my last months I felt drained, sad and starved. I knew something was not right- there was pain in my body and in my heart. I wasn't sleeping well, was barely eating and felt like I was in a dense fog that wouldn't clear.

I spent a lot of time in meditation and prayer before I made this decision. I dropped below the surface of my thoughts and listened to the deep inner wisdom of my body. I trusted the intuition telling me my time in that classroom was over, and I had the FAITH that my journey was taking a turn to heal myself and the world in a better way.

So despite the fear I had for the future, I courageously expressed my truth.

I cried in front of the Head of School that day. I REALLY cried as I exposed my feelings of fear, shame and sadness to the leader of the workplace. And believe it or not, she heard me and showed up with a powerful presence. She handed me tissues and spoke with a motherly knowing. She nurtured my emotions and encouraged the healing of my soul. I left that day feeling thankful, enlightened and hopeful for a new day when all leaders will engage with and honor the more fluid modes of thought and feeling, and I am filled with a profound gratitude for her soft understanding and her FIERCE guidance.

I learned that people SHOW UP with conviction when you allow yourself the freedom of vulnerability. I learned that humanity is inherently loving if we allow ourselves to open and be loved.

Life continues and the fear is still present. I feel it now in my new relationships and business ventures. My ego tells me that I am not good enough, I'm not beautiful or lovable, that I don't know enough, and that I just can't do it. But instead of screaming at me, it is just a gentle whisper. I recieve the hum of those thoughts, and practice recognizing and HONORING the emotion of fear. I let myself feel the intensity with gentleness - taking a bubble bath and/or just allowing myself to cry. The practice of yoga has taught me to feel authentically and LET GO with intention and faith. 

So if you feel afraid- BE with that feeling. Scream, shake, cry- do whatever you need to do to honor THAT part of you. And be grateful that the fear is just that... a PART of you and just ONE beat of the rhythm. Take a deep breath, look for the opportunity to be vulnerable and courageous, and express your truth with conviction.