This week, I’ve learned the crippling side effect of fear.
It begins with some certain hope.
When my friend Frankie introduced me to the ASEAN Young Writer’s Competition, exhilaration coursed through my veins. I’d been searching and praying for a regional competition I could enter, but so far, my stories had never quite fit the designated theme. But this was a competition that encouraged short stories of all forms: fantasy, reality, tragedy, borderline crazy, basically anything. I became drunk with the possibility of winning from the very start.
(Note: possibility does not mean high probability. I'm still working on believing in myself...)
Then, once my hope was established, fear crept in like a Serpent.
“How could you possibly win this,” it whispered in the dark recesses of my mind, “you haven’t published anything so far. All you are is an amateur storyteller. Ha! You’re not even an amateur. You’re just a tiny speck holed up in front of your laptop!”
I could not contest. It was true. I haven’t been given the opportunity to publish my work. When I’d submitted my novel to literary agents, I received their spear tipped rejection letters with a target marked heart. Before 2013, I refused to ‘put myself out there’ precisely because I considered my work as filthy as rags.
Fear had struck its chord, and I had turned my ear to listen.
By bed time, I felt defeated. I was not planning to enter at all.
Then, Mich sent me a text I did not expect at all.
“There is no fear in love,” the text read from 1 John 4:18. “But perfect love drives out fear, because fear…”
I’d practically begged my mom not to take me back home after school yesterday, because I would have been sitting in front of my laptop, writing but not really writing.
That’s the tricky thing about fear. I did not even know what I was afraid of until that very moment.
I feared that if I allowed myself to dream, I would be disappointed. I feared that I was yelling into the void and that no one would find me worthy enough to yell back.
So when the text continued to say “we can dream a bigger dream than the dream we live today,” I felt like shrinking back into my shell.
What if my dreams are rendered invalid? I thought. What if I am simply setting myself up for a huge let down?
Mich went on to say “don’t be afraid to aim for the big [dreams] because [God’s] perfect love drives out fear…Love is and has always been the greatest motivation ever!”
For those who do not know, I believe in Christ. I believe in God.
This does not mean I do not doubt His plans or even Himself sometimes, it just means that when all else has happened, I will always come to the conclusion that, yes, God is my Lord and Christ is my Saviour.
I’ve been afraid that my dream to be an author—a storyteller—will never happen. I’ve been afraid that God will say “no” to my dream.
My dream makes me feel alive, like the way a thousand winds make you want to dance in the rain. My dream makes me want to live, but my fear kills the hope I have in my dream.
Here’s the thing I’ve learned about fear: it will always look real if there is no other truth to counteract it.
When I first began posting stories online, I used a pseudonym for fear of being called a horrible writer by my peers. This year, though fear was present, I began to operate Blot Press (what others call my blog) under my own name.
It took much courage. I prayed for months before beginning Blot Press, and I’d wrestled with God when He’d clearly said “stop arguing with me and start writing.” In fact, it felt like I was gambling away the privacy I had fostered for myself.
The result was overwhelming. I had never expected my stories to impact people in the way they have.
Here’s the other thing I’ve learned about fear: we are not meant to wait for it to disappear before conquering it.
There’s an internal battle within me at this moment. Shall I fear the absence of a response from the void or shall I, despite that fear, step out in faith and yell as loud as I can anyway? Shall I fight God when I’d prayed for this opportunity in the first place? Shall I not seize this chance by the neck and take a step towards my dream?
I’ve made my decision.
Though the buildings seem tall, I will attempt to touch the sky.
I will attempt to yell into the void.
And you, dear reader?
Are you prepared to conquer your fears?