Confronting Fear / by jill tranquilla

Being a highly sensitive person alongside having tremendously high expectations for myself and the people around me, you can imagine that I am an emotional train wreck just about 24/7. I'm not really someone who likes to live in labels, but if the world was separated into black and white cubes I would definitely fall into the ones labeled HSP+tremendously high expectations=major stress case.  One of the things I find the most challenging is that as I've grown up, I've been less scared of risk and more scared of stress. This might be a curious sentence, because fear and stress tend to go hand in hand. But now, my fear tends to be the idea of failing, due to having too high of stress levels. Tonight was one of those nights.

One thing you have to know, before I begin, is that I've never been one to take many risks. Most of my childhood memories consist of images of me crying for the most elusive reasoning. In grade school, if a teacher were to call me out in class I would be a crying wreck for literally no reason. From a very young age, I lived in fear. Fear stifles dreams. Fear tells you, you can't. Fear, in this context, took away most of my childhood. 
I'm not positive where this general un-confidence in myself derived from. Sensitivity, like many other traits, has its pros and cons. I think that the real problem was that I began to believe that what I felt, do to my sensitive nature and emotions, must be the truth. That when I didn't feel my best, it must mean that I would never be any better. Now, looking back, I can see how fear of not succeeding found its way deep into my core and rested there as a parasite. It began to control everything from how I mutter to my bad posture. I can see how fear still makes me sit in front of my tv instead of being active in defeating the fear. Fear, wants you to always be comfortable, and to not reach your full potential. 

Breaking out of the intensity of that situation, has been a work in progress. I find that the best way to break something as abstract as fear, is to do something in the physical to be victorious over it, ie. take a risk. Confronting you fears can mean facing your fears. For me, it meant coming to realize what my true dreams are, and deciding to pursue them rather then keep telling myself, I can't. This meant, for me, that I started taking voice lessons and a lot (A LOT) of dance classes. In my heart, I've always wanted to express myself in these ways, publicly,  and never claimed it out of fear. But this isn't where it ends. 

Taking the initial step out of fear, some might say, is half the battle. The other half, is discipline to reach your goals, to gain the confidence to spit in fears face (which actually might be 99% of the battle, but hey.) Each time I walk into the dance studio, I'm taking a risk. And this is something that maybe no one will ever tell you. But, since taking these risks, I have failed. Numerous times, including tonight. But I can tell you that I can see my fears in my body literally shifting. I'm no longer scared to go to the dance studio. I'm no longer scared to keep up with the choreography (well... haha). I'm no longer scared that I'm going to look completely horrible. What I am scared of, right now, is my stress levels preventing me from reaching my own goals. Right now, this is my biggest obstacle. I find that if I let stress take over, when I let the fear in, I will blank out in the choreography. This leaves me feeling as though I'm back at square one, but that is a lie. It's funny, because this stress, actually comes from having overwhelming high expectations for myself. When you are at a level, and you convince yourself that you should be #x levels higher then your at, of course you're going to be discouraged. For me, I've had to rewire my perspective on setting goals, and have developed two categories that help me reach my extremely high goals in a healthy, balanced disposition. 

The first category, is defining the ultimate goal. I'm working myself up to being confident performing in front of people, and hopefully can perform at an advanced level, to the best of my potential. The second category, is where I have to pace things out and remember that I'm only human. Reassuring, that as long as I'm working towards that ultimate goal, I'm already where I need to be in this seasonI've already taken a step into gaining more confidence where I otherwise lacked, and as long as I continue to confront my fears, they can't have control over me. Another good set of advice is to own where you're at. Instead of focusing on where you are discouraged, focus on the progress you've already made. And when you don't reach where you think you should be, or you make a mistake, know you're not alone. Everyone who has pursued a dream has ran into obstacles. No body is a super human. While some people have genetic talents bred into them, they have still reached where they are due to persistent discipline and not giving up. So, shake it off. Find the joy in where you're at. I love dance, because it's fun. Balancing my expectations actually brings me more joy then if I am continually stressing about where I 'should be.'  

I'm still a stress case. I'm still nervous about memorizing choreography, and singing in front of a crowd, I'm still scared of not reaching my goal. But I'll let that be the incentive to keep trying, rather then giving up. I hope that maybe identifying where your fear is can propel you into challenging it, as well. 

Philippians 4:13 (MSG) I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.