Random Inspirations

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Overcoming Fear: Unleash Your Inner Lion or Lioness

on August 11, 2014

One of my favorite Sunday pastimes is attending church with Antonio, where we recharge our spirituality and find inspiration for the coming week. Yesterday, the priest’s sermon was particularly touching–he talked about fear: the way it can hold us back, and how so many people are motivated by it, when instead we should be driven by love and faith.

This really struck a chord with me. Fear impedes so many of us in our quest for self-actualization, and if left unchecked, it can prevent us from ever reaching our full potential. And fear affects even the bravest among us. In fact, it’s so sneaky that we may not realize it has caused us to fail until it’s too late.

I consider myself a pretty brave person–unless there are spiders or mold around. Then, all bets are off. But seriously, I have never been one to shy away from challenges, “scary” amusement park rides, weird new foods, or relatively adventurous activities. However, career-wise, I was always a play-it-safe kind of girl. I followed the prescribed path of academic success: high grades and a loaded extracurricular resume in middle school and high school, the accelerated and demanding Doctor of Pharmacy program in college, and, finally, the lucrative job as a pharmacist. I felt stifled in the box of the pharmacy, and felt that my very active creative side was begging to be unleashed. As a result, I packed my time outside of work with artsy activities like writing, piano, chorus, drawing, and various dance and fitness classes, but felt as though there was a schism between my real interests and my full-time career. I dreamed of becoming a successful published author, but fear of never being “discovered,” as well as fear of giving up my secure, well-paying job, prevented me from taking the risks I’d need to succeed.

I was forced to face my fears when Antonio, who was then my fiance, was offered a great new job in San Diego. I knew in my heart that San Diego would be the best choice for us long-term, with its near-perfect weather and healthy lifestyle, as well as the lucrative and personally fulfilling position Antonio was being offered. Yet, I was incapacitated by fear. I was deathly afraid of venturing into the unfamiliar territory of California. I wanted to launch a new career as a YA author, but I was secretly afraid that I’d fail and be just another “starving artist.” Finally, I was afraid of leaving all the friends we’d made in Chicago, and of being so far from my family in Pittsburgh. The list went on and on.

At this point, I knew that it was time to manage my fear, not the other way around. So after my several-month-long period of incapacitation, Antonio and I finally arrived at a brave solution. We maintained a long-distance relationship for a year before our wedding, during which time we attended writing conferences together and focused fully on launching my career as an indie author. I continued to work full-time as a pharmacist, and the year was incredibly busy. But by our wedding last September, I had learned enough about the publishing process to feel as though my career leap was warranted.

I am so glad that I faced my fear, because now I’m happier than I ever thought possible. There is no longer a schism between my career and my innermost desires. I determine my own schedule, and the pace at which I release my new eBooks. I can work from home, which is ideal because we’re expecting our first child in October. And, for the first time in my life since teenagerhood, I feel creatively fulfilled.

This period of struggle taught me so much about facing my fears and unleashing my inner lioness. As the week begins, I urge you to examine your life and identify your greatest fears, and perhaps how they’ve held you back from your dreams. Like me, many people let their fears stand in the way of realizing their full potential and achieving their career goals–no matter how nonsensical those goals may seem to those around them. Morphing from pharmacist to writer seemed weird to some people, but it was the best decision I could’ve made!

An unwavering support system is essential in unleashing your inner lion or lioness.

An unwavering support system is essential in unleashing your inner lion or lioness.

So, here are some ways to overcome fear and unleash your inner lion or lioness. After reading this, I hope you want to ROAR!

  • Identify your greatest fears – Sometimes, fear is so sneaky that you might not even realize it’s holding you back. Identifying it is the first step to overcoming it.
  • Visualize your ideal life – Close your eyes and take a deep breath. Then, visualize a day in your ideal life. Are you working in the same career, or a totally different one? Do you live in the same city and have the same relationships? When you open your eyes, compare your vision with the reality of your life. Maybe your dream career is the exact opposite of the one you’re doing, or you’re in some pretty toxic relationships. Identify the elements that differ from your ideal life, and pinpoint why they differ. Is it because you’re working toward change, but it just hasn’t happened yet? Or is it because fear of failure or change is preventing you from even trying to turn your life around? If this is true, then you’ll have to…
  • Set goals – Write down the goals that will transport you from your real life to your vision. This will make your goals more real and plausible.
  • Have a support system – Once you’ve identified your goals for change, share them with your significant other and trusted friends or family. This increases accountability and helps to alleviate your fears about making the change. Antonio was my biggest supporter as I launched my new career. Not only did he believe in me, he’s been with me every step of the way, helping me to build my platform, attending conferences and networking events with me, helping me to learn about marketing, and even designing book covers. In the end, I had to overcome my own fear, but his unwavering and loving support was instrumental in the process, as well as in my success.
  • Become comfortable with the unfamiliar – As you’re working toward facing your fears and achieving your goals, try other things outside your comfort zone, like unfamiliar vacation spots, new sports, and exotic foods. The stimulation and newness will increase your fearless factor, guaranteed!
  • Make the change – Change is slow, and it can only be achieved with hard work every day. Armed with your goals and support system, you can face your fear of change head-on. Change gradually. Just as I didn’t launch a new career overnight, you shouldn’t expect your change to occur instantaneously. Be patient, but work constantly.
  • ROAR – Soon, you will begin to see the fruits of your labor. And when that happens, make sure to celebrate! Maintain a balance between hard work and celebration. There’s nothing more exhilarating than facing your fears head-on and conquering them. Now, go forth and ROAR!
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