Making Peace with My Greatest Fear

“The Bible says to ‘fear not,’ but this doesn’t mean you should never feel scared. It means when you do feel fear, keep going forward and do what you are supposed to do. Or, as I like to say do it afraid.” – Joyce Meyer

“If you want to conquer fear, don’t sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.” – Dale Carnegie


By Dawn Onley

Fear is 100% mental. When not dealt with, like cancerous cells, it divides and proliferates, spreading rapidly from the brain to the body in the form of stress, which creates a new type of havoc with the potential to decimate anything in its path.

If you suffer from fear, like I do, I’m not sure it’s something that you ever completely get over. It’s irrational. How can you reason with fear? You can do Tony Robbins’ firewalk. You can practice meditating and being mindful. You can pray. All of this yields great results. But at the end of the day, when you still have to face what it is you are scared of, fear often is right back with you, occupying space in your head.

The best approach I have found is to work through it; to not be afraid of being afraid. To come to terms with fear.

I had such an epiphany last Friday when I gave a 15-minute talk about the value of public relations before an audience of non-profit executives. Leading up to the talk, even the night before and the morning of, I was oddly not afraid. I read over my presentation with the precision and attention to detail of a surgeon before a surgery.

I’m sure for you, nothing significant stood out in the preceding paragraph, but for me being unafraid was nothing short of a miracle.

Anyone who really knows me knows of my relationship with public speaking. It is my greatest fear. Beneath all of my layers, I am a reclusive writer at heart, looking for opportunities to shun the spotlight for a quiet place alone with my thoughts and my laptop. It is my safe space.

On top of this, I’m a bit shy in large groups. While I’ll talk your ear off in a one-on-one setting, I’d rather do just about anything than be in front of a crowd.

And yet, up until about an hour before my talk last Friday, I was not afraid.

And then … the negative self-talk hit my brain all at once:

“What are you doing here?”

“You are NOT a public speaker.”

“You belong in the background, girl.”

“You don’t like this so why do it?”

It was almost too much. Except, I’m in a new season of life. I’m a boss and I do what bosses do – I deal.

I shut myself up, right away. I silenced the angst before it got out of control. I took a few deep breaths. And I gave a decent presentation where I imparted some great information on why public relations is important.

I will no longer be held captive to fear. I’m not running from it anymore.

There will be many other speaking engagements in my near future and I will work my way through each and every one of them. There will be times when I’m uncomfortable but I will recognize the gift in these moments — how I’m being stretched and refined by the process.

Because, it’s no longer about whether I get nervous. It’s about doing it anyway.

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8 Comments Add yours

  1. Mary O. Hoy says:

    I can identify with your fears. I, too am safer in writing than in public speaking. For the first time in years, I spoke recently without feeling a quiver in my voice. Thanks so much for your beautiful article realizing that others have the same fears as you. I pray to God to take my fears away. However, my fears go way beyond public speaking. Animals, bugs, you name it. Thanks so much, Dawn. Be Blessed. One day you won’t believe you were ever nervous and afraid. Keep practicing!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Aunt Mary! And I have additional fears as well — deep water, confined spaces — but through His stripes I am healed.❤️ Working on each and every fear and no longer accepting or allowing the spirit of fear to hold me hostage. Be gone, fears! So long, bye-bye.


  2. Sharon King says:

    Yaaay, Dawn! You go, boss! I am so proud of you. I remember having some very funny conversations about your fear of public speaking, which I understand and can relate to completely. I once broke a pen in half just as I was walking to the podium to speak because I was so nervous. And then my mouth felt like it was full of cotton balls and my face was burning hot. Irrational fear!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Sharon! Yes, I definitely recall our talks on this topic. In the past, I’ve declined more speaking requests than I’d care to admit. I always found an excuse. But I refuse to do that anymore. Fear may have won a few battles but it won’t win the war.😘❤️


  3. Robin Fisher says:

    You have struck such a nerve with this essay, Dawnie. I felt like I was reading about myself! I have a terrible case of fear and the physical manifestations are terrible! Irregular heartbeat, fast heartbeat, sweating, hyperventilating, and on and on. I am going to think of you and this article every time I feel it and try to train myself to JUST WORK THROUGH IT. Thank you and love you, Rob

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We are truly twins, Rob. I get those same symptoms that you described. Before I silenced the noise in my head, it felt like I was having a heart attack with my fast heartbeat, tightening of the chest, etc. I think working through it is our best approach. Love you!


  4. TheArtistbee says:

    You are brave to move past fear and do it anyway. Awesome life lesson!! Hope for all!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Tracye. I think we all get brave when we get to that point where we’re tired of being afraid. I’m now at that point. Love you!


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