Fear of not being enough.
Fear of never mattering.
Fear of not being remembered.
A whole amalgam of different shapes and colors that boil down to a simple truth: Sometimes, I’m scared.
I’m scared of investing my energy into something that won’t work out.
I’m scared of being called a fool or worse.
I’m scared of failing to live up to what my life could have been, a wholly arbitrary standard to which I lend more credence than I should.
And the way I have addressed these fears in the past has evolved.
At first, I would try to run from it.
I figured that if I simply ran fast enough, hard enough, and far enough, fear’s skinny legs wouldn’t be able to keep pace.
It was a strategy born of hubris and sheer willpower.
And it produced some pretty spectacular outcomes. I don’t think that self-publishing a book or finishing an Ironman happen without the dogged determination to prove through action that I was bigger than my fear.
But fear is quite the athlete.
Or a weightless specter unburdened by things like gravity and lactic acid.
So, this plan was going to fail.
I evolved toward making peace with fear.
Something like: “I don’t have to like you, but you can sit next to me if you have to.”
I let fear into the car.
I never let him take the wheel, but I at least let him look at the map across many ideas and career paths during this existential road trip.
This was better.
I realized he wasn’t as lethal as I perceived him to be.
But I still didn’t like him.
I didn’t like the self-doubt he seemed to create in me.
I didn’t like the added stress that continued following me around.
I moved toward trying to ignore fear.
I wouldn’t outrun him.
I just would pretend he didn’t exist.
When I felt fear, I would ask, “How would I move through life if I felt NO fear.”
This, too, had some peak moments. Crashing through self-imposed walls and barriers about what was and wasn’t possible.
Starting a rap career as a 35-year-old white Dad required a lot of ignorance of the alarm bells and whistles signaling that this might be a tragic mistake.
I ignored fear when I released my first songs and worked through my early performances.
I ignored fear while investing more time, energy, and money into this idea.
I held my chin and chest aloft, declaring that I intended to march forward, which is what I did.
But the fear was still there.
And I knew it.
At some point, it becomes an exercise in denial.
And this morning, I find myself on the cusp of a new plan that feels, in many ways, more frightening than the fear itself.
All of it.
Every terrible, tragic story conjured in my head and my heart. I will find time for stillness, and I will feel this fear in that stillness.
This sounds about as fun as repeatedly volunteering to be hit in the shins with a Razor scooter.
And and and
I know that this is the way forward.
Because fear is healthy, fear is a sign that a nervous system is functioning appropriately.
Our reaction to that fear is where we make or break how it may influence our lives.
And in feeling that fear, we realize that it is only that: A feeling. The stories in our minds do not create fear. The feeling of fear leads our minds to create stories about why we are feeling that way.
Perhaps most importantly, to feel is to know that you are alive.
And when I feel alive, I make better music. By better, I mean more emotional, connected, engaging, and authentic—more me.
And at the end of the day, the only thing I know I can do better than everyone on this planet is to be myself.
And if doing that requires me to feel my fear, then that’s what I’ll do.
Wish me luck.
It will be scary, but I sense a great view on the other side of these dark woods.