Over the past few days, I have heard multiple people comment on how nowhere feels safe anymore. They comment on how scared they are to go anywhere because who knows what might happen. Those feelings make a lot of sense. Fear is a very real and necessary emotion. It’s an evolutionary mechanism that we need to survive.
However, it can often keep us from thriving.
For the past few years, but especially in the past few weeks, we have been bombarded with frightening and threatening stories left and right, seemingly new horrors every day. It can feel as if nowhere is safe, no one is to be trusted, and as though it is just a matter of time until something happens to you. What other reaction is there to have but fear, really, when our college campuses and grade schools are turned into hunting grounds and our malls, movie theaters and clubs into scenes ripped from our nightmares.
But please, don’t let that fear win.
I know how hard that is to do. As a survivor of rape, a sufferer of depression and a student who has experienced a school shooting, I know that fear is always present. Some days it feels impossible to step outside, like a threat is around every single corner. Classrooms were tainted, bedrooms now scream of violence and every public crowd now hides a madman. No place in the world is safe for me. I understand the feeling that nothing will ever again be safe, good, happy. It truly does feel as if we are a country at war, like it might just be a better idea to stay home if you want to live to see tomorrow.
That can’t be where the story ends though.
Fear breeds fear, and that fear will spread.
Don’t stop going out. Don’t stop fighting for change. Don’t be that person who moans on about how they are now feel uncomfortable entering a grocery store or mall because “who knows what might happen.” Sure, feel those feelings. They are real and valid and make sense. Fear demands to be felt. But then choose to see the movie anyways, to brave the school hallways with confidence, to continue to live your best life. When you give into that, you miss out on so much. There is too much left to experience. Too many songs to discover, too much delicious food to try, too many books left to read, too much happiness left to find, too many people to meet and choose to love deeply with all you have. That fear can be redirected into so much productivity, so that if God forbid something ever did happen to you, people will be able to say you had a life well lived, not one marked by fear of what might happen.
Overcome fear, live beautifully instead.
Do it for me, who struggles every day to feel comfortable. Do it for the 49 victims in Orlando, and the countless others across the country, who would want you to experience all they no longer can. Do it for your friends and family. Do it for yourself. Fear cannot win.