Fear has been a constant in my life, not a friend but a presence that becomes this companion because no one else in a 50 foot radius smiled back. Like the monster under your bed or the cell mate who stays in the opposite corner of the cell laughing at jokes made by the wall or a tumor. You never really agreed to the companionship it just kind of was, or at least that’s what I tell myself.

But in truth and fact there is always a choice, isn’t there? Only over the rampant beating of your heart you missed the little box on the questionnaire that said,  “Grow a pair” and instead you ticked “Feel better” the temporary solution. Whatever it is that personifies fear for you, we can all agree that its presence is undeniable. For adrenaline junkies it propels them to jump out of planes and for people like us, we’re one glass of water short of a panic attack.

One of my first memories of fear, was during a school assembly in third or fourth grade. In this particular scenario, after prayers and singing hymns the teachers thought it would be a fun idea to select two students to answer questions in front of the entire school.

Back then I was considered “smart”, but smart and anxiety are like a mix of thera-flu and coke– a bad one. As soon as they called my name, the “lub-DUB” increased and one by one the lights went off. We walked up to the front, stood side by side and the question was asked. I remained frozen, not even sure I heard the doorbell ringing, but for certain none of my brain cells came to the door, no light came on, nada. My opponent, cool and confidently gave his answer and then applause followed. We were dismissed, but before I could retreat back into the safety of the crowd, one of the teachers commented “But Judi-Kay, what happen to you? You knew the answer”. That is when the earth opened up and swallowed me whole.

I’ve struggled with writing these heart to heart pieces for the last year now because I think my soul saw through it. Here I was writing about how we, as when I write to you I am also speaking to a part of me that needs to hear it, should embrace life and all that good stuff and after a year I had not. I couldn’t write about my climb up the mountain, my view from the top when I had only made yet another round around the base.

The embrace should be the epitome of a Pooh Bear hug– soft, full, all consuming, sweet and sticky from drops of hunny. Nothing gets left behind, all gets felt by him, the good, unique, lovable, the bad, the mistakes, the regrets and most importantly the parts of yourself you wish you could kill or burn away. You take it all and love it, because all of that makes up the imperfectly perfect–you.

These words are easy to type, easy to write, but the hardest to say — to yourself in the mirror, to yourself amidst adversity, to yourself when you mess up; especially when this is something you’ve ran away from for so long that it’s nearly instinct to dismiss.

I was told by a wise man to look as far back as you can to see if where you started feeling this way and who was the cause, not for blame but perspective. Sometimes whomever made you feel like you weren’t enough, valid, worthy or what have you, sometimes it wasn’t their intention, merely our reaction to a situation based solely on our personality.

Unfortunately, it could also have been there intention to belittle you and in this case, it is your responsibility to own your right to live. Give yourself the chance to live a life where you take chances and try. To live a life where you are happy, because let’s be honest things have not been working out as they were. So really what do we have to lose?

Only so much to gain. You have a white blank page, let’s paint, draw, write whatever we want on it. We call the shots this time, not fear, not hatred, not regret, not opinions, and certainly not anyone else but you.