Fear of being late, fear of lizards (Yup, got that one), fear that you won’t get the job you want. Fear that you aren’t like everyone else, or fear that you are. We all struggle with fear in some form or another. When you tune into fear’s force it can shut you down and swallow you up. If you don’t have any fears, I suggest you keep running, keep on pushing forward, because it’s coming for you. Fear can create sadness, bad choices, and it convinces you to surrender. Yoga continues to teach me to face my fears. Teaches me to work through them in my practice, and teaches me to face them in my life. Yoga guides me to shut out the noise, “the roommate” that lives in your head that gives you the advice you didn’t ask for. Yoga forces me to breathe through that noisy fear, and concentrate on the bigger picture of what life could look like if I wasn’t scared. Yoga teaches me to listen to my own desires, and helps me to stay calm, cool, and collected by focusing on my own self-study.
Fear was most present in my early years, my roots. From as young as I can remember, I remember being fearful. Fearful that the state would take me away from Granny and put me back into the hands of my unstable parents. At age five, I wrote letters to the judge pleading to stay with my grandmother, begging him to make the decision to keep us safe. After a couple more years, I started to be fearful that Granny didn’t want my sister and me anymore. Waking up, hearing Granny cry as she counted her penny jar, and overhearing her phone conversations that revealed to me she had no money because she was waiting on our fancy state check, scared me that she was going to give up on us too.
Fear that I wouldn’t have enough to eat, or fear that people would find out how dysfunctional things really were for us at home while I continued to put on the happy girl front at school. This kind of fear brought me to depressive thoughts at a young age. Fear crept in and told me that the only option was to be sad or to give up. Yet, like the judge who kept us safe with Granny, I found way’s to reject those thoughts. Taking time for self-awareness, and taking time to listen to your small desires, your biggest dreams, is the first step at depleting your fears. You have to believe that fear is wrong, even if it is just for a minute. I began writing at a very young age and have been writing in journals, typewriters, and computers for over 25 years. I fought off fear by writing out how I was feeling, and stating out loud in words what it was that I was scared of. To this day, I suggest it to most everyone I meet.
In high school, I was working two jobs, trying to keep up with my peers on the sports teams, and dealing with a lot of drama at home with “my family” that moved in to support Granny. College was my one-way ticket out of the town I grew to fear. The problem with getting to college was that I was really struggling with my grades. When it came time to take the SAT, I was scoring so low that the family that took me in made jokes that all I did was, “put my name on it.” Fearful that they were right actually ended up motivating me even more. I borrowed my best friends fancy notes from the SAT prep class her parents had her in, and partnered with my brilliant Aunt Andi from Pennsylvania. She is one of the most special cheerleaders of my life, and she got me the material I needed to succeed. I took the SAT six times. Yes, six times is what it took for me to finally get the score I needed to get into a school others termed “easy.” Tests for me weren’t easy, or maybe that is just what fear told me, but I had to just keep at my goal. Just like in yoga, every body and everybody is different. When you stop comparing yourself to others, breathe and relax, you can really put that energy into making amazing things happen for yourself.
When I finally got the score I needed—after being rejected—I resubmitted my application to my “dream school,” Florida State University. Weeks passed and my peers were turning in their offer letters, and I heard nothing. Fear whispered (and shouted) for me to just give up. Give up on the dream and just go to a community college, where it was more affordable, and where they accepted students like me.
Although, that is fine idea, I knew what I wanted and I knew what I deserved. So I continued to go after it. I reached out to mentors, my bosses of the jobs I worked, and my English teacher (who always encouraged me to keep writing), for new recommendation letters. I wrote a new college essay that told the administration office who I was, and what I was capable of. I explained to them what I had already accomplished and what I had overcome at age 17. I asked them to look beyond what they saw on my report cards and to give me a chance. If I were just given this chance to further my education, I would not let them down. When that acceptance letter came, I wore my colors proudly and I continue to be a very proud Nole.
Working through fear to get what you want is just like crow pose, (the asana I am doing pictured) somewhere off of the PCH on a skinny bench in Malibu*. When you are looking to do this pose find strength in your abdominals. Anytime you are looking for peace in an uncomfortable position or situation you can find peace here in your core, your center. Open your chest and lean into your firmly planted hands keeping your spine straight, glutes firm. Look past your hands, and shine that heart towards your intention, your fight from fear. If you fall, you fall. If you fail, at least you know you tried. Although, I do suggest that you continue to get back up and try again; no matter how many times it takes.