Putting fear in its place (Or, “Maybe I can”)

Things have begun to change fast in my three and a half week hiatus. But after two and a half years of college as a journalism major, I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. The contours of what my life looks like tend to turn at the drop of a hat.

My most immediate and notable change: it looks like I’ll be switching beats for advanced reporting.

I’ve had a couple of people ask me why, and to be honest, my explanation is as complicated as a Facebook relationship (cheesy — but I couldn’t resist). Or maybe it’s just trying to spit out an decision that is the product of multiple long conversations, a ton of advice from multiple directions, too much introspection, a more careful analysis of my goals, a realization of what I need right now and a multitude of other odd nuances.

But the motivation that most fascinates me is this: I am switching beats because I am afraid to switch beats.

My pastor, in addition to his many amusing adages, likes to say that when I’m hurting, or when I see someone else hurting (and I mean emotionally, not like I broke my leg or something), I should lean into the pain instead of running from it, because that’s where the lesson is.

I’m wondering if the same is true for fear. Maybe being nervous about switching beats is good. It means I’m thinking carefully about what a change could mean, that I know the challenge will be different than if I stayed on the same beat. (I’m not saying sticking with the same beat would be in any way less challenging — it wouldn’t be — a beat switch is just a different kind of challenge.)

Truthfully, I’m a little sad to be moving from the ed beat. I loved the beat and the people when I wrote for it last spring. And the days since I made the decision to switch have induced a range of emotions — from “This will be great, and I can do this” to pacing around my house fighting off the nerves rising in the back of my throat. This is probably partly because right now, I’m not sure where I’ll wind up when the dust settles, and while journalism has helped me learn to deal with uncertainty, it’s still not something I prefer.

But something in me is strangely OK with the fear — even in the middle of having no idea what the next few months of my life will look like (including making it through the semester, figuring out what I’m doing for advanced and trying to land an internship somewhere, anywhere).

Lean into it. That’s where the lesson is.

This is probably due to a combination of a number of conversations, a lot of advice and a strange clarity that comes from being at home and having time to get my thoughts clear. And for the time being, I’m going with it.

So I’ll give myself a couple of days, and then I’ll make a decision. In the meantime, I’m more than doubling my number of internship applications, because instead of applying sparingly because I’m afraid of rejection, I might as well get on with it, because the worst that can happen is that someone says no.

Lean into it.

Somewhere in the middle of my rush of decision-making, I stumbled across a TED video my friend posted on Facebook about how fear can be useful if used correctly. It’s not really a decision-maker/breaker, but her point is something I’ve been learning to consider as time has worn on:

Because there’s really nothing wrong with fear. What matters is what I do with it. And instead of running from it, maybe I can wrestle with it.

Lean into it.

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