Fear, a potent and multifaceted drug. Iridescent and shimmering like one of those round crystals that hang in the window to catch the light. Fear, as dark and looming as it is enticing and luminous. Fear looks like obsidian covered in golden sparkles that reflect off the light. Fear, the driver of paralysis.

Stuck. Shame. No. Never. Don’t go near there. Fear.

As a child, I was terrified of quick sand. I was constantly afraid that at any moment I would simply step in the wrong place in the dirt or the grass and slowly, ever so slowly, the earth would literally swallow me whole. That fear is so deep within me that each time I camp in the desert I look for the tell-tale signs of quick sand. You can never be too careful. Fear, it keeps all of us stuck.

I once did a coaching group and we had to draw our fear on paper. After we drew our fear we had to talk to it. My fear ended up looking like a giant piece of shit with carpet fuzz and hair stuck all over it. I was supposed to thank it for its service but what I really wanted to do was tell it to fuck off. I avoided this conversation with my fear for the entire week and then I realized time was wasting and I had better get to it.

I called my fear a piece of shit. I thanked it for how it had helped me get through my abusive and chaotic childhood. It is remarkable that response is so innate – fear leads to fight or flight. I was consumed with it as a child and young adult. But I didn’t want to be consumed with it as I entered the second half of my life. I told my fear enough is enough, I am done. I am done being afraid of living.

To fear is to freeze. To fear is to stay put. To fear is to not love and be loved. To fear is to build a fortress. No matter what I did or how hard I tried to build up my fortress, I simply could not do it.

Fear. No. Do not go. Stay here in my soft, soupy glistening sand that slowly envelops your body in a nice, warm, suffocating hug. Fear. Stuck. Not moving forward. Not taking risk. Fear says risk is dangerous. Stay here in my loving, stinky, sticky arms so that I may keep you in your place. Fear says: “But my darling, to take care of your body and soul is to give you value and that simply will not do.”

No fear. Fuck you. I thank you for your service. Good day.

It took some time. Fear is easy to fall back into. Fear is the safe zone. I started losing my friends, friends that I had known for years and years. “Stop being afraid,” I would tell them. Look at how awesome my life is since I stopped being afraid. Look at the love and the money and the adventure I am receiving. They were stuck, and clung to that cold shiny obsidian talisman as their ears kept them standing in the quick sand justifying they had to carry around a hairy turd like it was a life preserver. I couldn’t stand being around these people I had known forever.

Fear is negativity. It is the opposite of love and light. Fear. All stop. Frozen. No. You must not take that risk. “The risk to bloom?” I ask. “The risk to fly perhaps?” Exactly, none of that. Those things expose you to stuff. “What stuff?” You know, disclosure. People will know you. People will see you and then what will happen? Well, obviously instant annihilation of your body and soul. Um, no. That is not true. I do not need to fear. I do not need to be hidden. I am not something to be hidden away. I am a treasure that cannot stay hidden in a cave. I have things to share with people. I have women to ignite, students to teach, books to write, children to grow.

I don’t need you, fear. I am exactly as the divine gods and goddesses want me to be. Big. Taking up space. Yes, even TOO much space. Loud. Yes, speaking my bad-ass feminist truth from atop my “fairy soap” soapbox. Unapologetic. I have spent my entire life apologizing for my body, my sex, my sass, my genius mind. My mother used to tell me to tone it down, to be humble, even reverent. “What will happen if I don’t?” My mom’s fear would say you won’t get what you want. But what I want is for people to want me for myself. My fierce, unapologetic, fiery, lit up, authentic, passionate, sexy, kick ass self. None of those things happen if I stay afraid.

Speaking my truth used to make me feel like I was choking, like I was literally hanging from a rope unable to breathe. Fear is my own weapon that I use against myself in order to silence my words and force me into patriarchal submission. Fear is a mechanism by which we are driven to avoid, instead of motivated by what we want to create. Fear allows us to shut out the divine so that we can “should” ourselves into submission. Margaret Atwood once said, “Fear is a powerful stimulant.” It keeps you in your place, drowning in quick sand. It teases and taunts until you swallow the power of it whole, allowing it to lodge itself in your throat silencing your soul.

I’ll tell you what freedom is to me. It is bright. It is expansive. It is having your “give a shit” turned off, not caring what other people think. It is authentically and unapologetically Missy Bird. Freedom is No More Fear.

As a writer, professor and fiery public speaker, Dr. Melissa Bird creates the genesis for a new brand of leadership. Her words awaken revolutionaries, trailblazers and powerful innovators in the quest for justice. When she’s not building her public speaking Empire, she can be found reading trashy novels, drinking fine whiskey, playing mom to three delicious humans, and loving her punk rock scientist James Thomas Kelly. Connect with Missy at birdgirlindustries.com and on Twitter and Instagram.

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