Push through fears to achieve great experiences

Are you afraid?

If someone posed this question to me like I’m doing here, my response would either be a flat “no” or asking “afraid of what?” But this question isn’t referring to fear of the dark, monsters under the bed or creepy old places. As we grow older, we leave these fears behind; but, upon closer inspection, we may find more worldly fears coming into play.

When I am honest with myself, I constantly find places where fear is present and when my passivity is motivated with fear. I don’t mean fear as in paranoia or extreme phobias. Rather, I find that fear manifests itself in everyday things such as the little decisions of whether or not to speak out or take a certain course of action.

My experiences at the University have taught me a lot about fear in my own life.

During my freshman year, I saw signs everywhere for Veritas, one of the student organizations on campus. Having been raised Catholic, I figured Veritas would be something good to have as a part of my college life. However, I was afraid of how well I would be able to fit in with the people there. Specifically, I was held back by thinking they were “more Catholic”—in other words, more knowledgeable and active—than me.

However, at the beginning of sophomore year I decided to just try it out. The consequences of deciding to go and see what would happen have been incredibly positive. I ended up meeting my best friend and plugging into a wonderful, supportive student community.

Although I made great strides in overcoming fear in that instance of trying something new, I still have more strides to take in not letting fear hold me back. One of the things I learned outside of classes this past school year was the extent to which my actions are still motivated by fear.

I easily become anxious when I look toward the future and wonder about what it holds.

College students are at a time in their lives when they wonder what in the world awaits them after life in Bowling Green. Summer, in particular, gives our brains more thinking room for pondering the direction we’re taking with our lives. How can we not, when we’re always being asked, “What do you want to do with your degree?”

I would be lying if I said I’ve never felt afraid about the future. But, there are things I’ve learned to keep in mind for when I find myself wrapped up in those feelings.

Living in the present is often hard to do, but it puts things in great perspective. After all, I can’t expect to enjoy all the great things going on right now in my college life if my head is always in the future.

One approach that I’ve found useful in overcoming feelings of fear or anxiousness is simply taking action. Often, I find myself held back due to fear of consequences—either of not succeeding, not carrying out a responsibility effectively, or disappointing others. Getting to work gives the brain less room for worry.

Another thing that I’ve realized—and this is much easier said than done—is to just let it go. Your mind may have jumped to the hit song “Let It Go” from the movie “Frozen,” so permit me to use the reference. When the character Elsa finally learns how to let go of her fear by the end of the movie, she becomes the happiest she’s ever been. Find an outlet. For me, it’s playing guitar. And I always appreciate a listening ear.

I’ve been challenged to face my doubts through the processes of applying for and accepting the positions of the summer editor-in-chief of the BG News and a student missionary at Saint Thomas More University Parish.

No doubt I’ll continue to feel bouts of anxiousness and fear throughout my last year at Bowling Green. But, when I look at all the great people and the educational and extra-curricular experiences that comprise my college life, I find I’m developing the strength to face that question—“Are you afraid?”—and push through with a faithful “no.”

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