My nephew Connor insists that he suffers from Coulrophobia: fear of clowns.
An actor in university, recently he played the part of Rainbow Sprinkles, an ebullient clown trying to get hired to perform at a children’s birthday party. Interviewing with a hyper-politically correct mother, poor Mr. Sprinkles’ cheerful spirit is crushed by the end of the play as every conceivable part of his act is deemed potentially offensive to some child (or child’s parent).
Admittedly biased, I thought he was a magnificent clown, especially in light of his purported clown phobia. The mental health community does not, however, recognize Coulrophobia as an official diagnosis. This fact compelled me to ask him, “Is this a real fear or is your fear of clowns, perhaps, just a wee bit of dramatic tendencies at work?”
With a ‘duh’ look on his face (if you’ve ever been around teenagers, you know the duh look I’m talking about), Connor says, “How one feels is always real.”
I went for the double-duh, “How can you play a clown if you’re terrified of them?”
“It’s called acting, Aunt Jone,” he snorts.
What if you act fearless?
Dictionaries define fear as a painful emotion caused by impending danger; an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain.
Fearless, on the other hand, is defined as ‘without fear.’ Women in the Fearless Females Forum have set me straight about this dictionary definition: it is ridiculous. Everyone feels fearful about something. Everyone’s fear is a real feeling.
What is also real is the fact that what we’re afraid of almost never, ever happens. Not even close.
Honor your feelings of fear, I’m not asking you to stuff them. At the same time, please spend some time considering what it would be like to choose to act fearless.
Help for Choosing to Act Fearless
Go slowly, think through your fear. Comb out the “what ifs” you imagine could happen. Gather data. Ask around for anecdotes: Has that thing you’re afraid of actually happened to people you know? How many? Can you cope with that “what if” should it–against the odds–happen? Instead of putting energy and emotion toward your fear, how would it feel if you briefly acknowledged that fear and moved forward anyway? What do you see yourself being and doing after letting go of a fear that’s stopping you now? Something great? Something worth making a choice to act fearless?
Fabulous Fear Quotes
Fear is a choice. “F-E-A-R has two meanings: ‘Forget Everything And Run’ or ‘Face Everything And Rise.’ The choice is yours.” –Zig Ziglar
Embrace your moral compass. “Fearlessness is the first requisite of spirituality. Cowards can never be moral.” –Mahatma Gandhi
Remember that no feeling lasts long. “Let everything happen to you, beauty and terror, just keep going, no feeling is final.”–Rainer Maria Rilke
“Danger is real, fear is a choice.” –Will Smith
Refuse to let fear dictate your actions. “Fearlessness may be a gift but perhaps the more precious thing is the courage acquired through endeavor, courage that comes from cultivating the habit of refusing to let fear dictate one’s actions, courage that could be described as ‘grace under pressure’- grace which is renewed repeatedly in the face of harsh, unremitting pressure.” –Aung San Suu Kyi
Grab your fear and dance. “You can’t make fear go away, you must dance with it.” –Seth Godin
Befriend fear. To have courage is to face fear. You can’t reason with fear. You can only comfort her. Fear is your friend, but she cannot lead the way. Get in front. –Dr. Anne Perschel
Image of Connor Bosworth & Katie Tumbow, University of Central Missouri, Black Box performance of Rainbow Sprinkles.