Fear, hope, pride

“To fear is one thing. To let fear grab you by the tail and swing you around is another.”

I have a confession to make. I’ve never read The Bridge to Terabithia, but I love this quote from Katherine Paterson. (the quote itself is actually from Jacob Have I Loved) It’s one of my favorite quotes, because it reminds us that while there’s nothing wrong with being afraid … letting it control you is an entirely different matter.

We live in a culture of fear. Fear of death. Fear of disease. Fear of attack. This is perpetuated and encouraged on all levels of society and it’s really sad to see.

People have often commented how brave I am. The truth of the matter isn’t that I’m brave, but that I sit with my fear. I make friends with it. I accept there are things I am afraid of, and then I do them anyway.

To let fear have control is to lock yourself in a prison. It chokes you out, stifles your spark, and prevents you from truly living.

***

We went to see Wrath of the Titans over the weekend. *laughs* Alternate Title: Perseus Headbutts Everything. Magnificent cheese. And in it Andromeda (played this time by the lovely Rosamund Pike) says to Aries “We may not be gods. But we do what people say can’t be done, we hope when there isn’t any… whatever odds we face, we prevail.”

Hope.

It can be our greatest strength and our greatest weakness. I once heard a saying that went something along the lines of hope is the chains that keep us from achieving our dreams. And it’s true. If you hope too much and never work for it then your dreams will never come true.

But hope can keep us going through the most traumatic of times, through the darkest nights. It is hope which lights up the sky and prevents us from giving up and giving in.

***

I commented on Facebook the other day – Know what I love? When I see my friends letting the pride of their accomplishments outshine their worries/fears/concerns for their body image or how it might be perceived by others. Despite what this world continually tries to tell you, you are more than the sum of your looks, keep rocking it.

There’s a real problem in our culture with pride. It’s a throwback to the church and the idea that pride was a sin. That you shouldn’t let your head get too big or take too much credit. To that idea I blow a big, fat, raspberry.

Pffft.

Girls especially, are encouraged, browbeaten, convinced that taking pride in accomplishments is a bad thing. We don’t take compliments well, and if we do it’s arrogant. Our worth is based on our looks, but if we emphasize them too much then we’re asking for trouble. It’s a nice little double-edged sword designed to slice a girl’s self-esteem down to the tiniest of shreds.

(Obviously this happens to boys too, but I think to a lesser degree.)

I. Don’t. Like. This. And moreover, I’m not afraid to say it. I’m also not afraid to say I’m a rockstar when I’ve done something amazing. I’m quick to accept a compliment, and quicker to smack someone who tries to downplay their own rockstar status.

I was listening to a talk by Aimee Mullins on TED about The Opportunity of Adversity and in the talk she mentions how one day she met the doctor who had delivered her and had to tell her parents about her condition. Dr. Keene went on to say that Aimee had been instrumental in shifting his perception and that he teaches his own medical students “…Unless repeatedly told otherwise and even if given a modicum of support, if left to their own devices a child will achieve.”

This means if we don’t bash and oppress and stifle that pride it will flourish. That if we encourage it, it will flourish even more. There is nothing wrong with pride and everything wrong with “playing small” as Marianne Williamson says. It does not serve anything, not your life and certainly not the world.

Don’t play small. Play big. Play EPICALLY big.

K.B.

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6 responses to “Fear, hope, pride

  1. Jar O' Marbles

    Ramen.

    Though I will make an addition to what the doctor said, even when repeatedly told they can’t/won’t achieve or accomplish anything, some children still manage to “rise above” and conquer the world epically.

  2. Oh, well said, indeed. While I’m not very religious, there’s a quote from the High Holy Day services that has always stuck with me. It says this:

    “Everyone should have two pockets, each containing a slip of paper. On one should be written: I am but dust and ashes, and on the other: The world was created for me. From time to time we must reach into one pocket, or the other. The secret of living comes from knowing when to reach into each.”

    I love the sense of balance in this–that balance between confidence and hubris, between hope and fear.

    • I love the way the universe reminds me of the value of humility. I’ll do something rockstarish followed up by something monumentally humbling (like tripping over my own feet 😀 ).

  3. Bravery isn’t being fearless. Bravery is overcoming your fear, or even—as you put it—sitting with it. I believe the reason for pushing on is hope for a good outcome. The two go hand-in-hand. And as contradictory as it may sound, too many people are ashamed when they feel pride at having accomplished something amazing—like doing what their fear could have prevented. You are a rockstar when you have done something amazing. 🙂

  4. Fear, when bridled, is one of our greatest resources. It is the fear of losing that makes us strive harder to win. It is the fear of falling or being left behind that keeps us climbing, keeps us moving forward. But, fear, left to run wild, can cripple us, leave us cowering in a corner; turn us into an invalid. Use fear, control it; make it work for you. Don’t let it control you, rule you.
    Great post and nicely written
    Wally 😉

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