Fear Means You’re Alive

“Fear means you’re alive,” is a tweet written to me written by spoken word artist and writer Bassey Ikpi last week. I tweeted her asking for advice for a writer who wants to move to New York City. Moving to NYC has been my dream since I was twelve years old. As I get older, the dream is starting to weigh heavily on my shoulders. I know that it’s something I have to do. Even if I don’t end up spending the rest of my life there, I want to be able to look back and say that I lived there for a period of time. It’s probably the number one thing I want to do before I turn thirty.

Bassey’s tweets to me hit me right in the gut. They affected me so much that I started crying right away. I know that I have to do it but one major thing that’s holding me back is fear. Fear that I’ll fail, fear of being on my own for the first time, fear of the unknown, fear of a big American city, the list goes on. Even just visiting NYC by myself to see a few Broadway shows for a weekend scares me so much that I keep putting it off. But that phrase, “fear means you’re alive” really made me think about my relationship with fear.

Just this weekend I was with friends who said to me, “If I don’t do something that scares me everyday, then I’m not living my life right.” I’ve always lived my life thinking that feeling fear means I should avoid something. It’s scary to walk up to a guy I don’t know and start a conversation so I’m not going to do it. It’s scary to put my writing out there and get people to read it, so I’m not going to do it. Submitting to this kind of fear has held me back a lot.

So how do I change my relationship with fear? How do I become the kind of person who faces fear head on and goes for whatever it is I want, even if I fail? I have no idea. It’s not a quick fix, but taking small baby steps is what I’m starting to do. I’m starting an internship soon that will probably force me to do something that scares me every single day. Granted, something as simple as picking up the phone and making a call scares me. I’m forcing myself to go out more with friends and they’re pushing me to get more comfortable around guys and feel confident starting conversations. It will take a while, but I’m taking the steps.

And NYC? If my internship does not get extended in September then I have to go. My first step will be to go for two weeks, the longest I’ve ever stayed there. I can stay in a hostel and make connections and maybe research apartments. If things go well, maybe by 2013 I can move there for a summer or for a substantial period of time and see what happens. There are going to be obstacles in my way, major obstacles, like money and immigration/visa issues because I’m a Canadian. I’m gonna need help and support and a lot of courage and faith.

I feel more determined than ever. That’s the power of Twitter. Most of the time it’s a time waster, but sometimes you can make connections and have meaningful conversations that make you think. I am not going to let fear hold me back any longer. Nothing is going to change in my life if I don’t do anything about it. My dreams are there for a reason.

I’m alive.

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