Fear is not a Four Letter Word - Blaine Hummel
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Fear is not a Four Letter Word

Well, ok, technically fear is a four-letter word. And, it even begins with the letter “f”. But, fear is a liar. For the better part of my years, I have been paralyzed by fear. But, because I was blessed with a strong intellect, I was always able to do well with less than average effort. When I was in high school, my AP American History, whom I respected immensely, pulled me aside one day and said, “Blaine, if you just applied yourself, you will go on to do amazing things.” I remember this conversation like it was yesterday. Hearing her words, I recall thinking to myself, “Why would I ever want to do that when I can do just as well being lazy.”

As I moved forward in my education and career, I put forth limited effort yet achieved many notable milestones. However, my life felt inauthentic. Deep down, I knew I was meant to do greater things with my talent. Looking back, what I once thought was pure laziness was mostly fear. I was afraid to fail. Without a strong ego and sense of self, failure felt life threatening. If I put myself out there and was rejected, that rejection cut to the core. I would, quite literally, be eviscerated and cease to exist. This fear permeated all aspects of my life. Relationships. Work. Spirituality. So, I developed a protective bubble and lived a sheltered existence. I conflated my sense of comfort and safety with living. But, as the noted psychoanalyst Esther Perel would say, I wasn’t living. I simply wasn’t dying.

When I decided to “take the leap,” the pain of standing still had become greater than the fear of what the future held for me. At the time, I didn’t understand that everyone has this fear. Most people do exactly what I did – shove the to the side, bury it, and cover it with some form of avoidance or another. In his work, venerated marketing guru Seth Godin makes a distinction between doing the job (which I had been doing as a lawyer) and doing the work (taking the leap to form my own career). Godin says the work is “dancing with the thing that makes you afraid.” I didn’t know I could dance with fear. I thought that when she rolled into the club, I’d keel over simply by making eye contact. I only recently learned that even though I have two left feet, I could cozy up to the bar, buy fear a drink, and then make magic stepping all over her feet on the dance floor. It’s messy. I ain’t gonna lie. But, as they say, dance like no one is watching.

So, if you are afraid to take the leap, I invite you out for a night on the town with the cool kids. Hell, I hope I can even DJ that gig. You don’t have to give up your comfort all in one fell swoop, but you can dance if you want to… While it won’t be the safety dance though, you will be a rock star.

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