Letting go of fear

On fear, my namesake Eleanor Roosevelt wrote,

The danger lies in refusing to face the fear, in not daring to come to grips with it. If you fail anywhere along the line it will take away your confidence. You must make yourself succeed every time. You must do the thing you think you cannot do.

So upon coming to Northeastern, I decided to do one thing every six months that absolutely terrified me.

I’ve held pretty solidly to that over the past four years. Some were more planned, some less so. After completing my first semester, which was intimidating in and of itself, the fear-tasks are as follows:

Competing in a beauty pageant. Taking a co-op in New York. Working said co-op, with the talented crew at MSNBC. Passing up an incredible career opportunity to take care of myself. Recovery. Applying to a five week reporting dialogue in Greece. And finally, taking two graduate level classes which I believed I had no business being in, as well as three tough undergrad classes in my last semester of school. 

Growing up, my mom always told us, “You’re already at no. Just ask.” I’ve been trying to apply that mantra to life, with an increasing amount of success as the years go by. A lot of us let the fear of rejection and failure limit us, stunting our growth. But I’ll amend Roosevelt’s passage; we’re not going to always succeed. Failure is inevitable and invaluable. If I didn’t learn to fail at the beauty pageant, I highly doubt I would’ve succeeded at everything else on the above list.

In every single one of those scenarios, I doubted my abilities, my resolve and my resilience. I certainly didn’t think I could handle being in a foreign country, reporting on crises that I didn’t really understand, and navigating language barriers at every turn. Yet here I am, on the other side, intact and improved.

Even yesterday, before my final story was completed, I complained to Bridget that I wanted to just scrap it and give up on it. Thankfully I didn’t, because I now have a product that I’m incredibly proud of and excited about.

Why did I want to scrap it? We didn’t have enough B roll, we didn’t have enough interviews, I wasn’t going to do it justice, I wasn’t going to sufficiently convey the importance of the work these amazing women are doing. It doesn’t matter why. There’s always a million excuses when fear is in the way.

But with Bridget behind the camera shooting my stand up, I thought about all the work Suma and I had done to get here. All the interviews we did, all the people we spoke with who wanted to shed light on the lack of reproductive health care for refugee and migrant women. I thought about all the women who suffered in camps, on the run, and in temporary apartments. This was bigger than me and my fear–to let my own insecurities impact someone else would be the true failure here.

What’s next on the fears list? I’m not so sure yet. But whatever it is, I know I’ll wind up returning to this blog to remind myself that whatever the task is, I will rise to meet it.

Even the rain can’t stop us from shooting!// Bridget Peery

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