Fear is the number one thing stopping us from doing what we want. Fear of the unknown, fear of failure, fear of disapproval from others, fear of change. Fear fear fear fear FEAR. So for me, relocating to India was a pretty scary thing to do, but I did it…
See that’s the funny thing about fear, once you start to do the thing you’re scared of, it’s really not that scary anymore. I’ve moved to India, started making horoscope videos (I’m an introvert ok, that shit is scary to me), put myself out there in so many ways that I avoided for so long because of fear, but as soon as I cracked on with it, the fear melted away.
I’ve been awol for a while now because, well… India. I took my foot off the pedal for a little while in order to figure out my flow, but now I’ve got all my plates spinning again, here’s a little list of why fear is actually your friend, complete with personal anecdotes to bring you up to scratch on my journeys to the far east.
(p.s. This is my longest essay yet, but I promise it’s worth the read)
1. Fear tells you what is wrong
I wasn’t happy in England. Living in a cold damp flat all winter was beyond depressing, and while there are of course things I love about being home, I desperately wanted to leave.
I didn’t realise that at first though, I just thought it was winter blues, but when I took a good hard look at what was going on in the ole subconscious, I realised I was deeply unhappy about being back in the same situation I’d been in many years ago. Flat. Job. TV… Wrong wrong wrong, so wrong.
2. Fear motivates you
I was scared of what would happen if I stayed. Would I get enough clients to pay my sky-high British rent? What if I had to throw in the towel and go back to the 9-5? Will I stay here forever in misery? FEARRRR. Except this kind of fear motivated me to do something about my situation.
I bought a flight to Mumbai on my credit card (yup – more fear) and started packing up. As soon as I had a plan in action, I felt immediately better. The fear lost its grip once I acted, but I wouldn’t have made that huge choice if I wasn’t scared of the alternatives!
3. Fear takes you to some strange places
So, now here I am, in Goa, India. I didn’t think I’d be back here so soon after last year, but doesn’t life take you in strange directions? Obviously, I have some unfinished business here.
Have you ever heard the expression: move in the direction of your fear? That’s cos the things you want most are the scariest.
When you start to listen to the fear and let it guide you, but not hold you back, you’ll end up going down some very interesting paths which you never would have dreamed of without a nudge of morbid curiosity. Fear is fascinating. Why else would people enjoy horror films?
4. And fear will make sure you do things the right way
One of the things I was most terrified of when coming out to India again was making sure I could work. Last year I was just travelling, this time I’m doing the digital nomad thing.
To everybody else, this is a dream come true and nobody could understand why I was so fraught. But instead of sunshine and temples, all I could picture was missed deadlines, losing clients, bad Wi-Fi and broken laptops.
My brain is really good at giving me the very worst outcome for any situation, so I was frankly shit-scared of all my hard work going down the pan.
HOWEVER. None of this has actually happened, because I was HELL BENT on making sure it didn’t.
My fear of letting people down kept me motivated, even when my friends were heading to the beach. My fear of failure kept me on my toes, and meant I’m still doing well in the job department, even better in fact. THANKS FEAR!
5. Sometimes the fear is not about what you think it’s about
If you’re getting scared of something you know you shouldn’t be scared of, perhaps it’s something else that’s bugging you?
While I’m not saying you should give in to fear, I do think there’s a certain strength in accepting that you’re scared. I’ve been scared on planes, in cars, boats, trains, on the back of horses, down alleyways and in the dark, but the one thing I always did was accept that I’m scared, and that’s ok.
The first few days of being in India I was jumpy as hell, terrified of traffic, snapping at my boyfriend. I had to acknowledge that none of these things were actually the root of my fear. I was frightened of the unknown, of failure, of having made “The Wrong Choice”. I had to acknowledge that fear in order for it to chill out a bit.
When you don’t allow yourself to feel the deep primal response of fear, it will spill out in other ways, like panic attacks, irritability and mental blocks. You don’t want that, let the fear in, then give it a big hug and tell it you’re ok.
6. Fear doesn’t want you to give in, it wants to make you stronger
In Arambol, Goa, where I’m living right now, everyone rides mopeds or motorbikes. EVERYONE. Everything is so spread out across endless dusty jungle roads that you just can’t walk places unless you’re right in the middle of the tourist hub, which I’m not, so the only option is a bike.
This TERRIFIED me for so long. Last year I went on the back of one twice and swore I’d never do it again. I’ve seen dozens of girls with ‘Goa Tattoos’ where they’ve taken the skin off their thighs/arms/FACES, and a small (ok a big) percentage of the tourists drive like nutters. I felt like this was a pretty rational fear to have.
EXCEPT if I don’t ride my moped, I can’t get to the beach/shop/civilization/etc.
After my third minor “altercation” (I won’t say crash in case my mum is reading, sorry mum, I’m fine) hitting a wing mirror, then a wall, then my neighbour’s gate, I was like NAH, not doing that again and refused to get back on.
I walked up the hot dusty street, hands shaking, feeling like an absolute plum as mopeds sped past piled high with families and suitcases and hippies with very little clothing, let alone a helmet, and when I got back home, I still felt scared, but I knew I needed to get back on the horse, which is a stupid expression since nobody actually NEEDS to ride a horse anywhere nowadays, but I need to ride my moped, so I got back on.
7. Pushing through the fear gets you to exciting new places
When I started, this was such a new thing for me. Talking into a camera is wayyyy harder than it looks!
I’ve got more confident now, but coming to India meant new challenges: could I record these videos somewhere nice? What about uploading them? Would the Wi-Fi be good enough? What if people walked by in the background (they do, its fine), and one of my biggest yet stupidest fears: what the hell am I going to look like? My readers are used to me looking neat and polished (Virgo), but over here I rarely wear makeup, my fringe gets this stupid flick from the humidity and it’s 35°+ and I will probably be sweaty.
HOWEVER (you knew that was coming right), my first two weeks’ videos out here have been GLORIOUS. Shot on the beach, the sound of the waves, and I found this well of confidence that could only have come from being in such a nice surrounding.
So, just like getting back on the moped, my pushing through the fear of recording my videos out here has opened up a whole new exciting direction for me. THANKS AGAIN FEAR!
8. But fear can also teach you humility
None of us are invincible. There are things and forces much more powerful than we will ever be, and for me, one of those is the ocean.
I freaking LOVE being in the sea. I love the way it pushes and pulls, cleanses any emotional shit that’s been piling up. BUT the sea is ruthless, and it knows it.
I tried paddle-boarding for the first time last week, and standing up on it was haaard. Falling in was even harder. When you’re out of your depth, the sea is gonna win. You are small and insignificant in the face of this giant swirling mass of water.
I discovered that I was scared to stand on the paddle-board, but I was much happier sitting on it. It was very meditative in a way.
I was scared, but I didn’t need to push through that fear this time, I could just accept that the sea was the stronger of us two, and that I’d have a much better time staying in my comfort zone, for now. 😉
9. Fear brings you together
Speaking of the ocean, I met a really nice Russian girl in it the other day. We were both shit-scared of the huge waves crashing in that day. We had a laugh about me being knocked flying even though we were only two-foot deep and we exchanged numbers.
When I travelled by myself for a week, I made tons of friends who were also travelling solo. While it’s an incredible and strengthening experience, being by yourself in foreign lands can be unnerving at times, so meeting other people who are also feeling unnerved makes for instant bonding.
Shared fear is common ground. Common ground = new fronds! 😀
10. Fear can be exhilarating
The first time I rode my moped fast, it was so exhilarating (until I looked down and saw I was only doing 30mph… lolz), why was it exhilarating? Because of fear!
There was a chance I could zoom into a petrol tanker or a school and explode into a fiery inferno, just like in the movies (except I think they’re usually doing more than 30mph…).
A little bit of fear can be fun. I’m still no adrenaline junkie, but I do like to feel like a badass with the wind in my hair (under my helmet) and the sun on my back (under sunscreen of course).
11. Fear is a natural emotion, but it is learnt
EVERYONE feels fear. It’s there to protect us, but it’s also something that we learn, and when something is learnt, we can unlearn it.
We are directly programmed to respond to dangerous stimuli by fight or flight, that’s why anxiety is such a bitch.
You get a surge of adrenaline to fight or run, except you’re sat in an exam hall, or speaking to people, or on a first date. Getting in a fight or running away would be deemed somewhat strange behaviour, so you do nothing.
So while you can’t get rid of the fear itself, you can change what you’re afraid of, and if there’s anything we’ve learnt by now, it’s that fear is urging you to DO SOMETHING.
While it’s easy to become paralyzed by fear, this is usually because we’ve become afraid of the fear itself, and we don’t know what to do.
I did something. Then I did something else. Then more things. All of them fucking terrified me. I’m a regular scaredy cat, but I cannot bear to sit around and be scared. If I hear a noise in the night, I’ll go check it out, because the other option is to hide under the covers awake all night wondering if you’re going to be murdered.
Usually, you’re not.
If the worst thing that you can think of happens, then fine, don’t get back on the horse, horse-riding is really not a necessity anyway, but how many things are a necessity to your happiness?
Life is too short to not do the things you want to do because you’re scared.
Make fear your friend. Make art. Move countries. Push forward with your dreams, even when you’re completely paralyzed with fear.
The sooner you do, the sooner you’ll realise that fear ain’t that bad really. It’s actually here to help.
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