I Am Afraid

Spoilers: I talk about Once Upon a Time season 3 and Charmed season 5.

Have you ever heard the phrase, “Fear is weakness?” Or “To have courage you must be fearless?” I’ve never liked either of these phrases and find them dangerously misleading.

Suppressing Fear

The youngest Charmed Sister, having the walls close in on her.

I am a big fan of the original Charmed series that aired from the late 90s to mid 2000s. But the episode, Sympathy for the Demon never sat right with me. In it, the demon of fear traps the three sisters in their house and forces them to face their fears. One of which is the youngest sister’s claustrophobia.

I’ll never forget the scene where the walls of the room are closing in on her and her look of pure panic and terror as she repeats the mantra, “I’m not afraid. I’m not afraid. I’m not afraid!” Until she finally conquers her fear and the walls return to normal.

I always thought this was a poor way to represent overcoming fears, because it’s teaching us that by ignoring our fears they’ll go away. But that’s not how fear works, nor should it. Fear can be a good thing. It can warn us of danger, keep us alive, and protect us in many different ways. It’s when fear controls us, versus being used as a tool, that makes it destructive.

After re-watching the episode years ago and having all these thoughts, I tried to think of a healthier way, but just as exciting, to show a fantasy confrontation with fear. Years later I found my answer.

Accepting Fear

Charming facing his Fear.

In Once’s episode The Tower, Charming deals with the news of Snow’s second pregnancy by setting off on a quest to find some Night Root, something that can, “Help one overcome any and all fears.” After ingesting it a figure that is the embodiment of all his fears shows up and begins fighting him.

Fear: Don’t you see? Your fear makes you weak.
Charming: No, I’m not afraid.
Fear: Saying that doesn’t make it so.
Charming: I’ll die to protect my family.
Fear: That doesn’t make you fearless, even as the point is proven. Give in. It’s easier.
Charming: (Sees Emma, his first child, coming to help.) I am afraid. Afraid. . . I won’t be a good father. But I won’t let that stop me, not now! (Stabs Fear, which then dissolves into mist.)

Unlike the charmed sisters, where they defeat their fears by denying they were afraid, Charming defeats his fear by admitting that he’s afraid. Which is a much more inspiring lesson to share. Because when we face our fears, instead of hiding from them, our true courage emerges. Courage is not the absence of fear, but the facing of it.

Doing it Anyways

Some of my past baked goods I made for fun.

We may not have magic here, well not TV magic anyways, but that doesn’t mean we can’t face our fears like Charming did. In the book Epic Win: The Geek’s Guide to the Journey from Fan to Creator by Douglas Neff (which I highly recommend) he has an exercise called, Do It Anyway. Paraphrasing, he asks his readers to fill up one side of a notecard with all their fears that have stopped them from pursuing their dream. Then turn the card over and write “… and I’m going to start anyways.”

Well, I’ve taken his advice. For the past year or so, people have been telling me my cookies, pies, and cakes are good enough to sell and that I should start my own bakery. But I’ve always answered with responses that belong on the first side of that card.

“What if I lose money?” “What if I mess up the legal documentation?” “What if I stop focusing on my writing?” “What if there is no demand for my food?” “What if there is too much demand and I can’t keep up?” “What if…?” “What if…?” “What if…?”

No more. I’m flipping my card over, channeling Charming’s courage, and doing it anyways! I’m scared, really scared, but I’m going to try. So, coming soon to service the Colorado area:

The So Many Cookies Home Bakery

PS I have never been this scared to publish any of my other posts. I am so nervous how my declaration will be received I’m trying to delay hitting the publish button. But I’m going to do it anyways.

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