This post has actually become so gigantic that I’ve decided to separate it into two parts! My goodness, that’s a lot of fear Sarah! True true, but I hope you will find a lot of nuggets in my long-windedness. So here is part one….
I have been thinking a bit about fears this past week in relation to living the life of our dreams. We’ve all heard the question “what would you do if you knew you could not fail?”. I remember trying to answer this question in the past… and I was always wishy-washy. Really, I didn’t even know what I would want to do. That’s a lie. I did know, I’ve always known. I’ve known since I was probably 5 years old. I want to be an artist. I want to make beautiful things and inspire others to do the same. This is me… quite simple. But it has taken a cataclysm in my personal life for me to see it and get true about it.
My own History with Fear
I’ve spent most of my adult life being pretty cloudy about what I want because of fear. It came from the fear that I am not worthy of living my dreams… that I do not deserve to live the life I truly want. And so, whenever asked that question, my answer was always some sort of compromised not-so-bold version of the real answer. Looking back now, I realize that I truly did NOT believe it was possible. And since I didn’t believe that I could have it or that I deserved it, I got in the way of my own voice a lot (and seriously did not even know I was doing it!). I imagine this is what many people struggle with… the believing a thing is possible for us and that we deserve to have it.
In the 3 years I spent with my fiancé, a lot changed about how I see myself and my relationship to fear. We both saw what each other was capable of, and we were always encouraging each other to follow our dreams and be our best selves. In doing so, we both went out of our comfort zones, faced a lot of fears, took a lot of chances and learned a whole lot of new stuff. He got me to shoot guns and go skydiving – and I love both! I got him to take dance lessons, dress up for a cheesy 80’s night concerts and a myriad of other ridiculous things that put him completely out of his comfort zone as a calm, reserved, small town guy. He was the one who bought me my camera, and was my photo assistant to every intimidating photo job I went on. He read every blog post enthusiastically and brainstormed on each art project with me (in fact, quite a few of my 12 month projects from last year were his ideas… including the Reclaimed Window Coffee Table, and the Ukrainian Egg Survival Kit). I played the part of flight student as he practiced hours and hours of lesson plans on everything from the the mechanics of a helicopter to aerodynamics. We each knew the other was capable of achieving our greatest dreams (even if we didn’t always believe it for ourselves) and it showed in how we made space for those dreams to grow.
Replacing Fear with Excitement
With him at my side, I learned to replace the fear of what might go wrong with the excitement of what is possible. That has been a huge shift. I started and successfully completed last year’s 12 months of creativity (which in turn lead to the creation of this blog!), I took a welding class, I started up and organized a wonderful creative group in Dallas – one which is still living on even now that I have moved out of town. None of these things were ever things I’d done before, and they all brought with them fears of their own kind. But what I found as I began to take small steps towards my dreams was that the rewards always greatly outweighed whatever fears I’d had – every time. Hands down.
Facing Fears far Bigger
Losing Drew was like the universe hitting the reset button… only I NEVER asked for a do-over. The life I had was the one I wanted. I’m now faced with years of learning how to live again and a lifetime of grieving his loss. This thought alone… this idea that it will take years to feel even halfway normal again, and that I will cry for him for the rest of my life, has scared the shit out of me. Along with the fear that I will never be able to fall in love with anyone again – that I will always be looking for him. In the first couple of months, I was terrified that I would not even survive this… that I would become some shell of a person that turned bitter and hard because of so much awful in her life. So far, thankfully at least that fear has not come true.
Fear, Passion and Creativity
To attempt to move forward in a way that would make Drew proud and keep me sane… I talk (and write) to everyone I can about what I’m going through, and spend a lot of time nurturing myself – so that I never feel alone and always feel taken care of. I spend as much time as possible living in the present, because living in the past or future is too scary and painful to go into for very long. And I make art. I paint, write, photograph, build, sketch, design, read, and brainstorm. I fill my days with as much creativity as I can. It used to be something fun to do, but now it has become vital. When I am creating or even thinking about creating, I’m able to replace all my fears with excitement again. I’m able to fully feel all my emotions there – both the good and the bad – without the fear.
I now realize that art is to me what flying was to Drew. The first time he flew a helicopter, he wrote that he could not imagine doing anything else with his life. And now I understand that feeling. Art is my lifeblood and the thing I was put on this earth to do. There is something beautiful in being able to experience that level of passion. Now I know – when I am totally lost in creativity – what flying felt like for him. It is like getting to experience a piece of him I never knew before – and maybe even a piece of myself I never knew before, too. This is a gift I am grateful for every day.
How one fear Helped Another
So as I’m writing all this out, I’m realizing that my new set of fears – these much bigger fears – have made all my old fears obsolete for the most part. Comparatively, the old fears about not being worthy and not believing I can live the life I want seem pointless to even be concerned with any longer… particularly when my mindset now is that today is all I have. I know I’m worthy of having the life I want to have, because I am living it every day now instead of waiting and hoping and planning for it. No, it’s not the life I wanted and dreamed of… it’s not the life I planned with him, but in this present moment, with what I have to work with right here, right now, I am living each day uncompromised and I am following my heart. I have made the choices yesterday that put me where I decided I wanted to be today, and I will do that today for tomorrow. The rest of it… is all faith. But I will way this, I 100% believe that living our dreams is possible now… even if I am nowhere close to being a successful artist myself, i know it will happen. and I know that there is more than enough room for all of us to do so.
To be continue…..