"Feel the fear, and do it anyway."
Over and over again I said this in my mind, trying to force my hands to stop shaking. I looked out at the crowd, faces unrecognizable with the stage lights streaming into my eyes. Although, the truth is, even if my vision was unobstructed – I didn't know a soul. Why, again, did I think this was a good idea?
My parents told me ever since I was young that I could do anything. And for some crazy reason, I've always believed them. Despite the opposition or the odds stacked against me, I've always just jumped. Headfirst. Propelled by the idea that if a challenge was in front of me, I had the strength to take it.
This time was no exception. It was my first week at a new high school, and here I was, running for student council as class representative against 1) the most popular girl in school and 2) the beloved class clown. Both of which had way better chances than little, unknown me. Again - it's my parent's fault.
It had only been a month since we left our beautiful Kentucky home on Olivia Court for the last time. Our house, built and designed by my father, became a distant blur in the rearview mirror. Driving away hurt. A whole lot. I felt my heart split as I read the note Kelsey wrote me - the one she told me not to read in front of her. My eyes clouded up as I realized I missed my best friend. Already. And we hadn’t even left Wilmore yet.
I think what hurt the most was leaving behind that warm sense of belonging. In the shaky ground that is high school, our group of friends had something really special. I had a place here. A spot at the lunch table, a bus partner on the way to tennis matches. Maybe most importantly, I knew that I was missed if I didn't show up on Friday night. Or change my French book out at my locker after first block.
More than that, I had a best friend. That was really more like a sister. Anais Nin once said, “Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.” When I met Kelsey, my world got brighter. That season of our lives was so full of laughter and ridiculousness, and almost ten years later, Kelsey’s name is the one that lights up my phone almost every single day.
But here I was. Starting from the bottom. In tenth grade. Is there anything worse.
I remember sitting in the passenger seat of my mom’s car after my third day of school in South Dakota and it hit me. I realized that I could live in this prolonged state of being the new girl - walking the halls as a face in the crowd, unknown, just another girl among many. Or, I could really go for it.
I made the decision in that moment to always do what I was afraid to do. And that year changed the course of my entire life. Pushed me out of my shell in ways I didn’t know was possible. Challenged me, fueled me to go outside of my comfort zone. Gave me the confidence to defy my own self-imposed glass ceiling built on fear and doubt. I vowed to always pursue opportunities that held a high risk - victory or defeat. Because either of those is better than that place of unknown, that place of what if.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of fear lately. And how it has such a powerful hold on our lives. It's not a one-time choice, but a continual battle. You can't face fear one day and expect it to evaporate for the rest of your life. It's an everyday fight. My sister told me a quote that she heard by Sam Lee that I can't forget - “Be nervous, but don't be afraid."
Because being nervous is a great thing. Being nervous contains excitement, anticipation, butterflies.
But never be afraid, because fear means a lack of confidence. Not just in who you are, but in who God is. And what he has already done, is doing and will do for you.
And so my life mantra has changed. I believe God always calls us to do things that make us (sometimes) a little sick to our stomach - anything outside of our comfort zone is usually like that. But he also commands us to not be afraid, but to stand in the confidence of who he is. And his grace, his undeserved favor that he pours on us, covers fear. Every time.
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind.” - 1 Timothy 1:7