The Other Side of Fear

There is comfort in knowing you have someone or something you can count on. Consistency helps us make sense of our day, stay on track with our routine, and remain focused on what we need to accomplish. But at what point does routine become dependency? At what point does the thing, idea, or person you lean on overcome your awareness of the control you have over your own life? Taking a step back from what you think you need and resetting your body, mind, and soul can reinvigorate your sense of power and control, putting the reins back in your hands and reminding you that you have everything you need, right at your very core. This sense of completeness leaves your spirit liberated, free, and open to opportunities and experiences. 

Routine, structure, and consistency play a major role in channeling the vision of your muse into growth and progress in the real world. I champion the planner, the color-coded calendar system, and the to-do list. Planning is power. But that’s the big picture - the formula you create for a successful day, week, month, and beyond. The formula covers the broad strokes of what time you spend focusing on each layer of your life. When you consider the thousands of seemingly menial decisions that fall into that calendar on an average day, you realize that most of them are no-brainers. Morning coffee. A glance at social media. An exchange of office small talk. They become so automatic, that over time, that coffee can turn into your lifeline for a productive day. That Newsfeed scroll can become your primary link to what’s happening in the world. That exchange of surface-level pleasantries is established as your safe and comfortable routine for “connecting” with others. 

Making the choices we are most comfortable with, day in and day out, can lead to that choice becoming the only choice. In a life full of thrilling and unique options meant to challenge us and push our boundaries, we find ourselves stuck with just one - the one we know well, and the one we think we need to remain stable and in control. Recently, after a long day of work and late meetings, while driving home in Austin traffic (hanger and road rage in full swing), one of those menial daily routines came down on me. I remembered that we had used the last of our coffee that morning. I was in a consistent routine of waking up before the sun and drinking the pot of coffee until it was gone, and usually picking up another from a coffee shop midday. The idea of waking up with no coffee was actually stressful for me, as I thought about all of the things I wanted to accomplish in the morning that would require focus and energy. So at the end of a long, exhausting day, I was going to drag myself through the grocery store to pick up coffee. Just the thought was downright annoying. And in that silly, somewhat menial moment, I realized that in a small yet significant way, I was letting a habit run my life. I felt that I had lost control of my own energy. I made the uncomfortable decision to tell myself, “You need to pull back.” Over the next few weeks, I reduced the intake, dusted off the French press that I used to love before my habit outgrew the yield, and cut the midday coffee run. I now feel less dependent, more in control, and more appreciative of the cozy cups of coffee I do still enjoy. So trust me, I get it. When your world is spinning and you feel like you’re drowning and you’re exhausted and overwhelmed, sometimes you just want to make the easy and comfortable choice to drink five damn cups of coffee, or collapse on the couch with a tub of ice cream, or order the indulgent comfort food at lunch. But the more often you give in to dependency on things that live outside of your core, the more you succumb to the false belief that you are not enough. That without your crutch, you won’t make it through. 

Taking this concept of dependency a few levels deeper, it’s even more challenging to acknowledge our ideological or experiential crutches. Dependency doesn't just happen with food or substances. We all have an arsenal of attitudes that protect us from the vulnerability that unearths itself in uncomfortable experiences. Think about the role fear has played in your life and your decision-making process. It’s normal to lean on fear to avoid feeling vulnerable. We can count on fear to keep us safe, but at some point that comfort can transform into dependency without us even noticing. We depend on our fear for a false sense of safety and stability, and it holds us back from taking steps into the unknown, where the magic, growth, and change in our lives can happen. Does the fear of looking foolish keep you from getting up and dancing? If so, you might be missing out on a belly laugh that you’ll feel in your abs the next day. Does the fear of rejection keep you from having serious conversations with your boss about your future at your company? You might be missing out on a raise that could fund your next life-changing adventure. Does the fear of seeming stupid keep you from asking questions about the things you don’t understand? You might be missing out on an inspiring respect for a person with a background that differs from yours. Playing it safe, sticking to your comfort zone, and leaning on the choices that allow you to predict the outcome will never propel you forward on your journey to know your muse. You will live at surface-level, never knowing all of the beauty and color and vibrancy that sparkles underneath. Walking through discomfort, acknowledging the pressure it puts on you, and pushing beyond that barrier is necessary for you to understand your immense capacity for strength and growth. So go there. Get uncomfortable. Break free from your dependency and explore every dimension of your capabilities.

Giving up or pulling back from something you lean on allows you to challenge the construct of your dependency. It serves as a reminder that you have everything you need inside of you. Falling into a routine provides some structure and accountability for this crazy life, but remain cognizant of when your routine starts playing on a loop. Remain mindful of your habits and acknowledge when you’re shifting into autopilot. Push yourself to go beyond the predictable - ask creative questions, listen with a fresh perspective, try something exciting or scary or even just a little bit different. You will find that on the other side of fear, you are fine. You are enough. You are free, you are in control, you are vibrant and independent. You are the reflection of your muse.

Shannon Pike
COO & Executive Brand Curator
Moderna Muse