I just finished a nice essay from Bernadette Murphy about riding a motorcycle. It’s a great piece of writing. At the heart is an encouragement to take risks and to follow your desires. I’m not going to get a motorcycle, but I am going to do more stuff.
But what about when we voluntarily choose to do things that scare us? Even little things? That’s different. When we voluntarily wrestle with the boogieman of fear, we gain skills and self-knowledge that steel us for the rest of life – those soul-numbing, bone-crushing times when we have no say in how much hardship we can take, how long we can last, how strong at our core we might be. Nothing so strengthens our resolve as having a regular, intimate encounter with the fear that tries to stifle us, that tells us we’re not smart enough, or young enough, or pretty enough, or strong enough.
When we’ve made peace with our fears and have taken risks at our own volition, we learn the most powerful bit of self-knowledge possible: that we have what it takes. Joy often hides in the very things we’re afraid of, and if we can move past fear, we can see how much more there is to life.