How to Deal with Fear

Today’s contributing writer, Rémy, is a close friend of mine — possibly the most girl-crushable person I know. Originally from New Orleans and recently a graduate from Brown, she says “y’all” and knows more about the good restaurants in any given city than Time Out. Rémy’s thoughts on fear, below…

Standing in my usual morning coffee line in Manhattan, I had a weird moment — I was totally stricken with fear. For over a year, it had been my plan to pack up from Brooklyn and head out to hike the Appalachian Trail — all 2200 miles of it. I’d never given it a second thought, but that morning, it was like I was waking up on my wedding day and realizing I was marrying the wrong person.

I didn’t know what to do with this fear — not the I’m-about-to-die fear, but rather the stomach-sinking, rollercoaster fear that can sometimes precede big life decisions. Being Type A, I figured that the next best thing was to poll the wise, brave people I know on how they deal with fear.

High Dive

What I loved was how perfectly true-to-form the answers were from person to person. One friend, a scientist, grapples rationally: she’ll think proactively about practical needs, but otherwise says, “I usually don’t think too hard about things emotionally until it’s too late to turn back.” My most empathetic and patient friend, though, lets the fear sit down and stay awhile. She dismantles it and questions it, re-framing it as something positive and a time for introspection, and emphasizes the importance of being patient with yourself through the process. My most nurturing friend, the one I call ‘Mom’ and in whose shoulder I most like to nuzzle my face, told me that successful people view fear the way we view lunchtime — that is, something to take for granted, to grow so accustomed to it that it’s part of your daily routine.

Until now, I’ve dealt with fear by self-caring and just wallowing in the fear until it’s run its course, which usually happens faster than I expect. But talking about this made me realize that this kind of fear is a privilege in disguise — it usually comes on the brink of something big. Next time, I might try the scientist method; next stop, world domination.

Thank you, Rémy! You are so brave. Readers, how do you handle fear? My go-to method is to pretend I’m not afraid at all, but that seems to only work about half the time…

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