Part of Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In phenomenon - a book which sits firmly on top of my 'read me' pile - the tumblr is full of pictures of women holding little signs telling us what they'd be doing if they weren't afraid. The point? To inspire us and make us question why on earth we are so scared of doing what we want to do.
Confronted with image upon image of women and girls admitting that they're too scared to follow their dreams, to raise their voice, to defend their opinion is emotional. It's frustrating and infuriating that fear seems to be a defining characteristic of womanhood, preventing women from leading, from climbing to the very top of that career ladder, from speaking up in meetings, from simply having a voice, and making sure that voice is heard.
Some fear confessions are devastating, like the women who talk about fear of being judged for the abuse they've suffered, some will resonate with your own fears, whilst some seem to hold just a glimmer of hope, but all make you want to shout at the woman in the picture: "Don't be afraid! Just do it!"
But it's easier said than done.
I'm well acquainted with fear. There was a time when the most mundane of things - taking a bus, not having the aisle seat, leaving the house - could paralyse me with fear and I'd often have to spend a while coaxing myself into doing these perfectly everyday tasks. I was the complete opposite of get up and go; I would spend more time just thinking about getting up and going than actually going, and it got to the point where it was ridiculous. I couldn't live like that anymore, so I stopped. Alright, so it may have taken a fair few hundred baby steps over some weeks and months, but honestly that switch in mindset to no longer allow yourself to be conquered by fear is kind of the hardest part.
I know what it's like to feel fear. And as much as it horrifies me to see that fear seems to be widespread among women, it's somewhat comforting to know that I'm not alone in it. As women we hear so many conflicting messages about what we're supposed to do with our lives. We're supposed to have dazzling career successes, healthy and happy marriages, spawn perfectly mannered brats, have perfect skin, perfect hair, look good in a bikini and have a beautifully pristine house. We're supposed to "have it all." But 'all' is an awful lot to have. Sometimes I think the fear and anxiety we all seem to feel is linked to this pressure to have it all. It's crippling and paralysing to feel like you have to succeed at everything, and that you have to be this perfect example of modern woman. Because every woman's "all" is different.
Nobody should feel afraid of going for their own, personal all.
I've overcome my fears and anxieties about everyday things, for the most part. Now, all that's left for me is to overcome my fears about The Big Stuff in life. Reading through this tumblr, although provoking both sadness and anger, has also left me feeling inspired. The fact that I felt compelled to tell the women in the photographs to 'just do it!' must mean that others would have the same reactions to my fears. Perhaps we can find some solidarity in fears and, more importantly, in conquering them.
Here's to a life without fear.