Is Fear Shutting Down Who You Are?

© Michele Lauren Hummel

I attended a large, happy wedding this past weekend where I spent most of the afternoon in one of my favorite pastimes, people-watching! I was especially intrigued watching people dance. As the afternoon progressed, shyness gave way to the desire to have fun and celebrate! Couples and clusters, old and very young, all were literally "joining in the dance" that made up the joy of this afternoon.

One little girl particularly intrigued me. She was an extraordinarily pretty child, around 8 years old, gregarious and wildly full of energy! She danced with her dad who tossed and twirled her as she squealed in absolute delight. Daughter and Dad kept up the uninhibited pace solidly for over an hour, sometimes joined by Mom, without sign of slowing down, until the disc jockey announced that everyone would have a chance to try a new dance!

Our little dancing dynamo sat down on the floor and wouldn't get up. The mom asked her why she didn't want to dance.The girl answered that she "didn't know how" to do this new dance.Mom explained to daughter what she needed to do, the girl nodded that she understood, and the three of them resumed dancing patterns that looked exactly like what they had been doing before. The little girl seemed not to notice that she was doing exactly what she had been doing all afternoon.The only thing that mattered to her was that she now knew how to do the new dance, and armed with this knowledge, she was completely unafraid.

One of my other delights of the afternoon was getting to talk at length with a friend I had not seen in quite awhile. This woman is a most competent, confident, successful professional in the counseling and healing arts.She also happens to be an outstanding Broadway/Cabaret-style singer with whom I had the pleasure of performing several years ago. I asked her where she had been singing lately, for I hadn't been aware of anything she had been doing.To my surprise, she told me that she had stopped singing!I was completely astonished! Singing is something my friend enjoys doing nearly more than anything else!Plus, the woman has everything going for her, great looks, great voice, fine stage delivery; all this and she had quit!

What astounded me most of all is that she had quit because she could no longer endure the paralyzing anxiety attacks she would get before and during a performance. She told me that she had been experiencing some therapy and making good progress. She had come so far, in fact, that she was ready to resume lessons once again.

She asked me if I were ever afraid, and what did I do about it. Of course, there are times that "nerves" will get me for some reason or other, but not often. Somewhere years ago, I came to the realization that I had done all I could do. I had prepared as well as I could for that point in history, I "knew my dance". There really was nothing left to do except to surrender to the experience. Let it be what it would be, and not many would either remember or care 15 minutes past the end of the performance. All I could ever do was put my heart and soul into my work that moment, and then, let it go.

I wondered how much of "who we are", do we shut down, stop doing, put on hold, or never explore because we have some sort of fear about not being good enough, about being criticized, harmed in some way, or simply because we "don't know the dance". We, the world, and All-That-Is experience only loss when we accept being less than our full potential.

Come on! Live your joy! Be your passion! Dance your dance! Laugh and rejoice, and then to the four winds, let it all go!

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