The truth about brick walls
Nominated by Naomi Owen
While fear for some people is something to be avoided, for others, fear is something to be faced with excitement and conviction. They view the unknown as an adventure to be explored.
When I think of fear, I don’t see a glass ceiling. Glass is transparent, you can see right through it. You can see what’s on the other side. Glass is easy to break. One rock, one forceful throw of a hammer and it shatters into a million pieces. When I think of fear, I see a brick wall. A rigid, solid wall, as tall as the eye can see. You can’t see through it. You can’t go around it. You can’t go over it or under it and you certainly can’t go through it. Bricks and cement are harder to crack than glass. It requires more effort, energy and guts to break through it. What is it that we fear most? For some, it’s the unknown that is most frightening. Without knowing it, we often prepare for the worst possible outcome. What if we don’t like what’s on the other side of that brick wall? This can keep us curious, keep us wondering – the what if? But it can also keep us stuck, right where we are. As a human being, one of our primal instincts is that of survival. Fear is an unpleasant emotional response that alerts us to the threat of danger. It helps us ensure our own safety. It has many faces and different forms. It manifests in different ways in our life. Some of it is our own fear, conditioned by our family and environment. Some are irrational fears such as fear of dogs, flying or germs. Then there are fears that are ancestral and passed down through the family genes over generations that we’re not even aware of, such as womanhood, motherhood, loss of identity and abandonment. While fear for some people is something to be avoided, for others, fear is something to be faced with excitement and conviction. They view the unknown as an adventure to be explored. I wouldn’t say I’m scared or afraid of many things. I don’t have any phobias of spiders or planes or bees. I’ve done things in my life that my friends have outright said, “you’re so brave, I could never have done that.” To me, it was a no brainer. Packing up and moving overseas to a country I’ve never been to before, to fulfil that life-long dream on my own? Done. Transition through two major career changes that I never saw coming, into industries I had no previous experience in? Did that too. And if it all went belly-up, I could always fall back on my first love, my first profession – secondary school teaching. But if I think about it, I do know fear. It is an old subconscious friend of mind. The things I fear are deep under the surface. The old me would feel the fear or anxiety rising and ignore it. I perceived fear to be a negative emotion and instead of focusing on it, or trying to work out what it was trying to tell me or teach me, I ignored it and focused on the other side of the spectrum which was what I wanted to feel instead – the positive emotions. I did this for many years and it got me nowhere. Stuck in the same patterns, the same limiting mindset, getting the same results. I’m an ideas person. I’m quite creative and have always been able to see the big picture really clearly. I’m the one with the ‘big vision.’ I can’t tell you how many business ideas, services and products I’ve come up with over the years. I’ve even had music and melodies come to me from out of nowhere. There is so much I want to do, be, achieve and have in this lifetime. I often wonder, why haven’t I gone out and done these things I said I would do? Is it not the right time? Is it not the right idea? Is it not worth the trouble? Is it a fear of success? Fear of failure? Fear of life changing as I know it? No, that wouldn’t make sense because I love adventure and exploration. I love learning and reflecting. I’d only see those failures as experience and important life lessons. So, what’s stopping me? Or is it that I just don’t want it badly enough? Our ego will often try to keep us in our comfort zone. It’s familiar, we know it, there’s no surprises or no tricks. It’s comfortable. But we can’t make positive changes or transform our lives that way. As Dr. Joe Dispenza says, we need to ‘break the habit of being ourselves.’ We need to break the conditioning and the programming we’ve used for the majority of our lives.
But now I ask, why are we afraid of our own power? Are we actually afraid of it or is it something else?
I first heard Marianne Williamson’s quote in the film Coach Carter. At a poignant moment in the film, we hear “our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate but that we are powerful beyond measure.” It gave me goosebumps the first time I heard it. But now I ask, why are we afraid of our own power? Are we actually afraid of it, or is it something else? I used to think I had a fear of success and a fear of failure. Why hadn’t I done the things I had set out to do? I’m still not sure but I am working through it. I’ll be honest with you, I procrastinated for a while before starting this piece. ‘Your topic is fear.’ Great, I’m fearful of writing this piece! In a way, maybe I was concerned about how this piece would be received. On a site with so many amazing writers, how would this measure up? I’ve done a lot of writing over the years, but it’s all been purely for myself. It’s all still sitting there, on my laptop, waiting to be published. What am I waiting for? It’s interesting the opportunities that present themselves to you, isn’t it? I was listening to a podcast recently. The amazing Les Brown was talking about an insightful discussion he had with Dr Howard Thurman. It was just a regular Tuesday night, I wasn’t expecting to hear these pearls of wisdom. It went something like this: "The ideal situation when we die is to have our family around us. But imagine being on your deathbed and standing around your bed are the ghosts of your dreams, the ideas, the abilities, the gifts given to you by life. But for whatever reason you never pursued those dreams, you never pursued those gifts, you never used those talents or abilities, you never wrote that book, we never heard about your leadership. And there they are, standing around you looking at you with large, angry eyes saying, 'We came to you. Only you could have given us life. And now, we must die with you forever.' If you died today, what dreams, what ideas, what abilities, gifts, talents would die with you?" I’m not sure what I felt in this moment, whether it was fear or not, but it certainly stopped me in my tracks - Potential… Wasted potential… No, I certainly didn’t want to experience that on my deathbed. Living up to your potential. This is what I worry about the most. Maybe this is what Williamson meant by us being ‘powerful beyond measure.’ Fear is a funny thing. One acronym is ‘False Evidence Appearing Real.’ Is the brick wall really there? Or is it just a figment of our imagination? Is fear now just a buzzword, an excuse, the easy way out to not move forward to create the lives we want? Some suggest that fear is real because they can feel it. It manifests as panic, anxiety and a racing heart. Some are even paralysed by fear. Often it’s one of three things: fight, flight or freeze. Let’s assume for argument’s sake, fear is not real. It’s all an illusion. It reminds me of a scene in Divergent when the main character is in one of her simulations where they are forced to face their deepest fears. It’s a test of sorts. She needs to face what’s “in front of her” and “be brave.” One of her fears is drowning. The scene cuts to an enclosed glass cabinet that is rapidly filling with water. She panics, swims to the top where there’s only an inch of air left before she drowns. But she stops, takes a moment to regroup her thoughts and her reflection in the glass says, “this isn’t real.” She taps the glass once with her finger, ever so slightly and it cracks. She does it again and the glass breaks some more. After a few more taps, it all comes crumbling down and she is free. This so-called fear is there for a reason. Our emotions tell us everything we need to know. If there’s fear there, explore it. Delve deeper into it. Is it even your own fear? Or is something passed down from your parents, your grandparents, ancestral DNA, or a past life? The next time you feel fear, stop to acknowledge it. Say, “Hi fear. I see you. I feel you. Thanks for stopping by today. Now, what do you want to tell me or show me?” You’ll be surprised at what comes up. More often than not, it’s not fear at all. All I know is that each of us is on our own unique journey and path. We chose our challenges, the things our soul wanted to learn in this lifetime and the people we decided to do them with. It’s only when we can face the fear and work through it, can we ‘Face Everything And Rise.’ Only then, can we pick up the sledgehammer with grace, ease and loving, powerful, present energy, take one giant swing and break a hole in that once seemingly overwhelming and rigid brick wall. Or maybe, when we’re up close, face to face with that brick wall, we’ll see it for what it really is. Maybe like Tris, by tapping our finger on the wall a few times, we’ll realise this too isn’t real. It’s not bricks and cement after all. It’s just a big piece of paper, painted to look like a brick wall. Poke it again with a little more force and you’ll tear a hole in it. If you’re really game, you’ll excitedly rip through it and pull the whole thing down from its holding place. Only then you can step through the façade that held you back for so long. Only then can you greet the new adventure, the fresh perspective and the untapped potential that has been there all along, waiting for you.
Margaret is a self-confessed coffee snob, a music lover and creative at heart. You’ll often find her reading, writing, doing inner healing work or boxing at the gym. She often is gallivanting around Melbourne, checking out new cafes, on the hunt for the best South American single origin espresso. Follow her adventures @melbcoffeegal
The purpose of Artemis is to increase the range and diversity of stories shared and written by women. Therefore, Artemis has one rule, nominate! To write for us you must either nominate someone or have been nominated, so if know you a woman who has a great story to share, fill in the details below!