A few weeks ago, I agreed to dog-sit for my friend, Suzanne, while her and her husband were out of town. I never grew up with pets, so I don't really know what to expect when it comes to animals. Growing up, I spent way more time running from dogs than petting them, so there's always a little bit of fear inside.
When I got to Suzanne's house that night, it was really dark outside and all the lights were off in the house. I started to come in through the garage and immediately heard bloodcurdling barks from around the corner. There was no way I was going any further until I knew Guinness (Suzanne's dog) wouldn't kill me.
I started creating a barricade in front of the garage door with my bags as the barks continued. I sent a text to Suzanne and her husband, "Guinness doesn't bite, right?" No response. After 15 minutes went by with Guinness still barking, I decided it was now or never. I agreed to dog-sit. I had to do it.
I picked up my bags like full-body armor and creeped into the house. The barks increased in intensity. I reached for the lights, and what I saw next was truly a sight for sore eyes. Guinness wasn't intimidating at all; he was cute and small. And there was no way he could've ever attacked me; he was behind a pet gate at the front door.
Fear is normal; it's part of our everyday lives. As Dr. Brené Brown shared on Oprah Winfrey's Super Soul Sunday, "Eating is fear. Drinking is fear. Drugs are fear. Rage is fear." Fear helps us stay alive, but it can also keep us from living. Brown goes on to share, "We’re all afraid. We just have to get to the point where we understand it doesn’t mean that we can’t also be brave."
Afraid of what's around the corner, how many of us just stay put ensuring nothing gets in but also ensuring nothing gets out either? We can allow fear to keep ourselves imprisoned and constantly guarded, but, just as I experienced with Guinness, what we're afraid of often isn't as big or bad as we think it is.
When we round the corner and turn on the lights, showing that source of fear for what it really is, we're pleasantly surprised to learn we're okay. What we thought was going to kill us isn't as bad as we imagined. It may actually be a worthwhile experience after all.
I'm nearly a week into living in my new home, Columbus, Ohio, and I'm so glad I didn't allow fear to keep me from taking the leap. There's certainly legitimate worry that comes with moving across the country, leaving friends behind, and driving 21 hours with my car towed to the back of a U HAUL, but what I've gained by not letting fear hold me back has been so much greater than what I could've held onto.
What's holding you back? Even more so, what's on the other side of what's holding you back?
As George Addair once said, "Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear."