Growth Through Fear

Prompt: What makes me uniquely me, and why?

Life is nothing without struggle. It is only through struggle and failure that we can experience growth. This hard truth can be quite uncomforting in times of crisis, but as I reflect on my life I have come to realize that my personality, my drive, my soul, all come from adversity.

For as long as I can remember I have been praised for my intellect. As I’ve discussed before, much of my confidence as a child and young adult derived from my ability to succeed academically. My acumen and reason, however, were often overshadowed by cynicism and blind arrogance. I failed to recognize the validity of perspectives different from my own and was shackled to rigid definitions of both intelligence and success.

However, this version of myself was not set up for success. I had limited people skills and even worse coping skills. When failure inevitably struck, particularly through my rejection from Stanford University as a senior in high school, my entire world-view came crashing down.

Now, ten years removed from high school and peak-pompousness, I value my flexibility, creativity of thought, and ability to shift perspective as much as, if not more than, my intellect. By embracing this openness I am able to forge connections between vastly different subject matters. I am also much more adept at social interactions. Which is to say I no longer have panic attacks at the thought of having to make eye-contact with a cashier.

Recently, I have embraced yet another face of my personality. Fear and anxiety have held me back time and time again throughout my life. Fear of failure. Fear of abandonment. And ultimately, fear of rejection. Fear leads us to leave comfortable lives, free from growth and challenge. Fear is the mind-killer.

In the past few weeks, I have come to embrace fear. I still feel fear, often intensely, every day. But I have changed my reaction. Now, I get up close and personal with every fear that is holding me back. Examine them. Explore them. And eventually, I realize a simple truth: there is nothing to fear.

I have experienced failure, bounced back, and thrived. I have been abandoned, left alone to survive, and I have succeeded. And I have been rejected many times in many ways. And yet here I am. Even a fear of death is meaningless, as we are all mortal and must leave this earth eventually.

Embracing this freedom leads to authenticity, authenticity to power, and power to success. This freedom is me. And I am ready for anything.

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