Sometimes I like to play around with words and phrases and vernacular and redefine them. It’s a habit that would drive my old English teachers crazy, and that alone makes it worth it.
I do this, I redefine words, because I believe definitions often place us into boxes. Certain words that are not inherently bad come to be culturally defined as bad.
Selfish is an example. Selfishness is not inherently bad. We should think about ourselves. Care for ourselves. Focus on our internal world and do things that make us feel good. What could be more human?
But the word has been stolen from us--taken and redefined so that it can only be bad. Selfishness is considered to be egotistical, as though you can ONLY think about yourself or ONLY think about others, with no middle ground.
In reality, there is good selfish and unhealthy selfish--it’s a spectrum with self care and self love on one end and egomaniacal, “don’t give a shit about anyone else” on the other. But selfishness is not ALL bad.
Fearless is another of these words that has been stolen from us.
I say this because I don’t believe we do anything without fear. Our fear might be small most of the time, but there is not any state of existence in which humans have zero fear. Fear fluctuates. Certain situations create more or less fear, but never leave us with zero fear.
I hate that there is an expectation in our society that, when we attempt great feats (or just normal, everyday feats), they should be done with zero fear. This thing we refer to as “fearlessness”.
So I’m going to redefine fearless. My new definition is, "feeling a sense of fear at the potential for failure or even death and taking the risk anyway. i.e. Bravery in spite of fear.”
Fearless isn’t about a lack of fear. It’s about sensing fear and pushing forward into the brave thing before you.
This year I’m starting a business (some of you may be visiting my new website for the first time). One that could fail. I find myself with a fear of failure almost every day. Some days fear paralyzes me. But on most days I push through it--I risk even as I am afraid.
I guess my point is, we don’t have to wait for a lack of fear to do something brave. We don’t have to hide our fear from others because we’re expected to do great things without being afraid. We don’t have to be without fear.
We just have to keep being brave. So go do something big in 2019 and do it fearlessly--not without fear, but in spite of it.