Facing Your Fears
Because what if it all works out?
My family and I spent the past week on Oak Island, a small beach town in North Carolina. Just east of this town, there is a port from which ferries transport passengers to Bald Head Island--a remote vacation village where the residents travel exclusively by golf cart and Weekend at Bernie’s was filmed. Once the ferry docks, you can rent a golf cart of your very own to explore all of the lushness. The trees in this place look like witch fingers, curling over the paths traversing the island and threatening to pull in solo travelers and suck their bones clean dry. Yikes!
At Bald Head’s edge, there is a small campus managed by the local sea turtle conservancy, and on this campus is a sparse building containing a handful of live, endearing specimens. Among the list of inhabitants are a mud turtle named Sheila and Viktor, a corn snake. I was looking into a tank populated by two box turtles, marked by a sign that read “When I feel scared, I pull all my legs and my head Inside My Shell”, when Sophie texted me asking for theme suggestions for this newsletter, and I replied by saying we should write about fear.
As a child of an anxious woman, my preparation for the world and what to expect from it was delivered to me through a series of discussions with my mother. “There will be men”, she tells me, “who will try to lure you into their car by promising to give you candy. This is a trap”. In another session, holding up a cartoon illustration of a line of topless women, all with varying chest sizes, she says “Everyone’s body is different, and one day you will have boobs like one of these ladies!” It is a privilege to be loved so much, but sometimes a curse.
LOLLLLLL at the boob thing, I had the same experience growing up but for some reason they…..never came! Lmao — S
With these conversations in tow, I navigated the world with a list of things to fear--strangers, developing breasts that touch the literal ground, etc.--and in doing so found a whole new category of fears that are only discovered through lived experiences. Social rejection! Vulnerability! Walking into a room alone! Learning for the first time what it means to be perceived, and the power we give to others to make us feel insignificant. Before long, it feels as though fear is a constant companion that we have to shed off, bit by bit, as we grow and form and shift through phases of youth, and then new fears come and the cycle repeats. In this succession, we uncover new parts of ourselves as unknown capabilities and resilience are revealed to us in our most dire moments. As said by Maria Popova in a Brain Pickings post: “what grants life its beauty and magic is not the absence of terror and tumult but the grace and elegance with which we navigate the gauntlet”.
There is a lot to be afraid of, much of which lies outside of my control—meaning that it will happen regardless of my reaction or state of mind—so I might as well walk into it bravely. It’s hard (impossible?) to stop fear from creeping in. What is within our power is whether or not we charge forward, which I hope to be better at. Because at its most powerful, fear has the ability to pull us from presentness and the promises of the unknown. This is the truest shame of all, because if we are not truly present, or if we show up having shed the unique pieces of our spirit in fear of their rejection, then we can never be known or loved as our truest selves.
If there’s something that you want to do and FEAR is the only thing keeping you from doing it, then this is your sign to go forth!! You are deserving of your most ultimate dream. Damn it all!!!
Other Things from this week
🐚 A photo of my sweet, sweet mother and the FRESH HOT PIZZA we had for dinner on the b-b-b-b-BEACH!!!!!!!!!
🐚 Black Cake: Emily Dickinson’s Hidden Kitchen from The Kitchen Sisters Present. I listened to this podcast during my morning walk last week and felt a resurgence of affection for Emily Dickinson in my heart, inspiring me to start watching…
🐚 Dickinson! Which has been a really welcome experience. Kind of feels like Broad City vibes but as a period piece.
Hi everyone, this is Sophie!
Reporting to you LIVE from my local library, which I discovered two weeks ago and have been going to every single moment I can… To set the scene, right now I’m writing these words a couple chairs down from a guy wearing aviator sunglasses, drinking a root beer and lying back in his chair listening to music. Love it!
Exciting times!!! Check out and support your library!! So many books!! Quiet space!!! It’s not your bedroom!!! All things I love. : -D
Edit: Jess and I both wrote our portions of the newsletter this week unknowingly giving a tribute to our mothers…<3 Wow!! much Love..
When I think about the concept of being afraid, fearful, all I can hear in the background of my mind is my mom’s voice repeating the words: “face your fears!!” Tucked away deep in my mental filing cabinet, I have a catalog chock full of sound bites of her repeated adages. Some of the others being... “Bloom where you’re planted” “You can do anything for a year” (LOL! Apply this to whatever you want…) “You are capable of doing ANYTHING you want to do” and the ever-present classic, “Please shave your armpit hair”
Digression here to say that writing this made me think of how my mom is ultimately my unrelenting #1 fan in this world. I’m lucky to feel close to her, and I know she’ll always answer my calls and give me a fair perspective on whatever issue is at hand, or just shoot the shit for an hour. It makes me emotional to think about! My mother has always been a source of inspiration in her positive spirit, selfless kindness and overall, an affirming presence that never fails to remind me in my weaker moments of who I can strive to be and what I am capable of achieving in life, through her aforementioned inspiring quotes and advice. Love to all the moms out there! <3
So anyhow, FACE YOUR FEARS???
…After pondering the concept of what it would mean to bring the action of FACING your actual FEARS to life, I start to think about the sheer concept of fear. It’s a loaded one. What do I really FEAR? What triggers my fight or flight? When I mentally slide past the basic fears people commonly have —snakes/spiders/dying/drowning/burning to death/being alone/blood says a quick google search…I’m more interested in the fears that feel a little more commonly occurring, maybe?
I found myself asking a compulsory “get-to know-you” question on a slightly awkward date last week. Whoopsie!! I asked someone about what their worst “fear” was. “Irrational or rational?” they wanted to know. Which fears are completely rational? Snakes? Spiders? Drowning? I can rationalize all of those irrational fears. Not to trigger anyone’s own fears, or inspire new ones, but I do have a recurring scary thought, that due to my own annoying clumsiness, I’m going to trip on something, fall forward, and not be able to catch myself, resulting in cracking my front teeth off. Ahhhhh!! It’s visceral. Edit: I sure hope I’m not slowly actualizing this one, as POST writing this, I tripped on a coat hanger lying on the sidewalk while I was on a run and totally, cartoonishly face planted this week (teeth are OK thank god).
Rationalizing irrational fears has actually probably been a talent of mine in the past. An overly active imagination and too much caffeine, idle time, worrying or a combination of all three?? There you go!! When you’ve thought about the endless amount of possibilities a situation can result in, and one of said possibilities actually occurs, it’s easy to feel like you’ve predicted the future. Or, that the future has confirmed your anxieties. Or have you….manifested your fears? Fear does feel like an intense word. Fear alerts us to danger, or harm. Can it extend to extreme avoidance? As many do, I have a hatred for awkward moments. So much so, that I feel like one of my flaws is definitely talking too much to overcompensate for the existence of an awkward silence. Yeahhh…
I loved that image of the “Fear-Excitement Overlap”, Jess!! I want to save that and hang it up, so I can remember the “rush of the unknown” and the “new challenges” in particular, the next time I’m all worked up about something.
So I think the key for me, in thinking about all of this, is similar to what you’ve so eloquently articulated, Jess. Simply moving forward, facing the fear, the anxiety, the avoidance of the awkward (however you’d like to label it!), must be a large part of the realistic antidote to most fears. Because the moment I’m actually doing the thing, the bad feeling tends to dissipate, turns gilded, silver linings completely exposed. I did it! I congratulate myself on the victory!! Everyone gets a trophy in this instance! Lately, in terms of what things spark fear in my life, the tamer of the bunch would be: going to the dentist (proud to say I’m cavity-free as of late!!!!!), taking a timed test that will not be named but rhymes with L-RAT, making a big choice that will tangibly affect my life to follow, sometimes airplane turbulence which my dad says are really comparable to bumps on the road when you’re driving. That has helped!
Yes! I feel like so much of my fear lives in the ‘anticipation’ stage of whatever it is I think I’m afraid of. Once I have thrown yourself into the waves I am so focused on navigating that the fear is forced to take a back seat. - j
Lastly, One of my favorite affirmations is “What if it all works out?” and I feel the converse of this would be to acknowledge, what if my worst fears come true? Realizing I would figure out how to deal with that situation, that my so called *worst* fears in many situations already have come true before, helps me realize the construction my own anxiety makes of certain situational fears. Realizing the place that resilience has in life is also important. Not as any cure-all, but as a reminder that you do already have the tools to deal with life’s struggles, if things don’t go exactly your way. I know that I have certainly not experienced my last heartbreak, cavity, extremely awkward moment. So, despite the odds, despite fear, despite the stuff we all experience that just plain sucks, let’s be excited for the possibility of life to keep us on our toes!! Why not??? This is the only life I’m aware I’ve had so far, so I’m genuinely excited for what’s to come. : - )
Love u! Love Sophie
This Week, I’d Like to Recommend:
The energy of the waitress who refilled Jess and I’s waters this past weekend at a restaurant, who was wearing the iconic “DUMP HIM” baby tee and explained to us that she had just “kicked her man to the curb” after wearing his shirt to his house, (so it would smell like her) and then changing into the dump him shirt, and going to the restaurant she worked at to drink. She was off the clock and helping out, and had some empowering, if a little chaotic, energy!! It’s still Big Slut Hot Girl/Person Summer LOL so let’s GET IT : - )
Lmaoo big love to that girl wherever she is today. Hoping to harness even a sliver of her powers. - jess
The Adjunct Gaze in LA Review of Books - I found this short review of two books centering on people working as adjunct professors in academia interesting in its thoughts on the university/academia system in general.
VIBESSSSSS — This pink pantheress mix for when you need a bright spot in your day, or for doing work to. Yayyyyyyyyyyyyyyy cute amazing upbeat music I love it : - ) <3 <3 <3
Coconut Water, still!
A single piece of nicotine gum 0_o
Doing something out of your comfort zone that make you feel REALLY nervous…
My mood moving forward this summer, no lie!!