My word for 2012, the adjective that I promised myself I would strive to be more than any other, was fearless. Because there are just so many beautiful things wrapped up in that single word, you know? Bold, fierce, faithful, free.

But this week, I was not fearless. Or any of those beautiful things. No, not even close.

This week, there were a number of times that I wanted to hang my head, hide my face, and avert my eyes, to fade into the background and disappear. Too many instances in which I was forced to hold my tongue and nod, despite my better intuitions. Trapped by my fear of humiliation, failure, and disappointment, of not being accepted or well-liked. Rational fears, all of them. So I played it safe.  

But everything I was afraid of, every imagined worst-case scenario, played out anyway. The world doesn't take pity. But if it did, how would we ever learn to fight back?

Fear is a powerful emotion. It can stop us dead in our tracks, cause us to tremble uncontrollably, make the mind go blank. At best, fear can be motivating; at worst, crippling. And it's one of the most difficult things to overcome. But I truly believe that we all have it in us to do so. Not to rid ourselves of fear completely, of course, but to defy, conquer, and take control of that specific part of ourselves. The part that is human and weak, that threatens to take away our freedom.  

They say that in order to be courageous, one must embrace fear and use it for good. Do whatever it is that scares you the most. Jump out of an airplane, ask a stranger to dance, speak your mind. Even if you're trembling the whole way through. Chances are, you will survive. And you'll be better because of it.

But regardless of whether we are able to do these things, to take the risks and embody fearlessness, I believe that there is beauty in the everyday striving. The trying and the failing. The trembling and the tears. Because without the tough times to remind us of the dark mountains we've had to climb, the glorious moment that we're constantly working towards—the moment that we finally rise above it all—would never see the light of day.

Photo by Semina Psichogiopoulou.