October 2015 became a turning point for me. I quit my job, alienated some colleagues and "friends," and set off to live life on my terms. No apologies. No regrets.
This last year and a half has been a complete blur. In that time, I have completed the Survival Run in Australia, launched a company, ran around the Island province of Phuket, met a beautiful woman who challenges me every single day, lived in Nicaragua, competed on American Ninja Warrior, completed a brutal special forces selection experiment on national television, took on strategic leadership for a worldwide charity, stood in the 'Blue Hole' on the island of Kauai, racked up 50 miles at World's Toughest Mudder in Las Vegas, plus another 14 ultramarathon races around the world; and then, out of nowhere, bought my dream beach house a baseball's throw from the pier. But, among all that, the greatest triumph, ever, was coming to grips with the demons I developed as a victim of childhood sexual abuse, and in the process, getting the necessary treatment.
Fear can be crippling. What does so-and-so think about me? Will I get that raise? Why doesn't he like me? What if I get fired? How come she has all that? Why am I not wealthier? What if I fail?
I believe I have successfully discovered how to erase fear from my life. Here are 5 examples:
1. Fear of Losing Everything
This is a big one, so let's start with it first. If you know me, you know this story, but, when I left my comfy, cush, high-paying job(s), I had fear. I walked away from a guaranteed lump sum of money, in my account, every two weeks. The number of fears that come with life changes at this magnitude are immense, but eventually all point to, "what if I end up homeless, in the streets?"
Guess what... I won't. You won't. That's right, there is a 99.99999% chance that I will never be homeless unless I want to be. Can my life look different? Sure, of course, but will I ever be homeless, unable to secure a meal, a place to sleep, or safety and security? Hell no. I am the same dude who achieved all I have achieved, and I could do it again upon the press of the reset button - But what if I didn't want to? What if I wanted life to look differently? What if I wanted to teach kids to surf in Bali, Indonesia? Guess what? I can. I can do anything I want to do because you can't take away the intangibles that make me ...me: my thoughts, my drive, my intelligence, my tenacity, my charisma, my dedications. All those things no one else can take. from me, nor you.
I will never lose everything because I can aways make something.
2. Fear of Relationships
I hate it when someone doesn't like me. It used to really drive me crazy. If I really like someone, platonically or romantically, and they didn't seem to show interest the way I expected, I tried extra hard to win them over. So much so that I believe the thrill of turning them around became more eciting than my actual desire to be friends or lovers with them.
Guess what... Not everyone is going to like you. No matter how funny you are, some people won't laugh. No matter how attractive, someone will think you have a big nose. No matter how many people think you are inspirational, someone will think your cheesy. We have no control over other people, nor what drives them. I know, I know, there are 15,000 sales seminars that will tell you differently, but is it worth the energy? and how authentic is crafting your behavior, in an unnatural way, just to "win friends and influence people?"
I try to be the most authentic version of myself, and sure, I fail. Often, really. But, the focus remains on being true and authentic to me, and let the chips (and relationships) fall where they may.
3. Fear of Rejection
There is an incredible TEDx talk on this subject of overcoming the fear of rejection, which you can watch below. It's a great story from someone who immigrated here and learned to overcome rejection in a foreign place.
To me, rejection and failure are very much the same. If you fear rejection, you probably also fear failure, but here's the thing - we need rejection. We need to fail. These are the times in our life when we grow the most. We don't grow when we are right or correct or exact. We grow when we are wrong, incorrect, and way off. These are the times of "going back to drawing board." The times of greater discovery, deeper thinking, and alternative ideas.
Don't be afraid of rejection. Embrace it. Consider failures and rejections as lessons in the school of life and as ways to learn things that make you smarter, stronger, and more resilient.
4. Fear of Love
Who could fear love, right? A lot of us. I feared love for a long time. In my particular case, the one I should love the most, I don't. The one who should have taken the best care of me at the most vulnerable time in life, didn't. She failed me, and worse, contributed to me learning about sex, love, and relationships in some of the most perverse and disgusting ways imaginable, leaving me with reactive, dark behaviors developed directly, and indirectly, from those scars of insanity.
I was afraid to love because I was afraid to be hurt. Or worse, I was afraid to hurt others as I bounced between stable Christian and unstable Christian. My own heart, the one that feels for others, can so often turn black when demons of the past show up, and I found myself being the one that cheated on love, lied to get what I wanted, and treated women with disrespect.
I say all this in the past tense as if I am cured. I am not. I still say shit I don't mean at times. I still can be hurtful with my words. I can still, "verbally abuse." The difference between now and then is that I am not afraid to love, nor accept love - both outwardly and inwardly. I am not perfect, but I am awake, and around every turn possible, I am choosing... to choose love.
5. Fear of Ostracization
Big word, huh? Yup, I had to Google the spelling before I wrote it to make sure it was even a word, but naturally, it comes from the word "ostracized."
I am actually including this fear because I lied. This is, in fact, something that I do fear. I fear it for myself and I fear it for those around me who could be affected. I fear it so much that I craft my stories of my childhood sexual abuse around an enigma, instead of the real person. I claim, "the cast and characters don't matter," when in fact, they do matter. I struggle with working to get those battling with demons of the past to speak up, talk about it, and reach out for help, all while leaving out one very disturbing part of my own story. Why? Because I don't want those in my family who love me to stop loving me. I don't want those in my family who believe in me to stop believing in me. I don't want to be perceived as "out to get anyone," and worse, I don't want to make things potentially difficult for family members who really didn't ask for any of this.
In the end, this appears to come full circle. You could easily scroll all the way back up to #1 to easily solve this last fear to make this essay far more comfortable and fall in line with the intent. But then again, when I have I ever "fallen in line" with anything?