Fear. The driver of many life decisions and the one emotion that I am constantly having to confront; to acknowledge its relevance (let’s face it, sometimes it’s one handy reign check) but also to keep a watchful eye on its (dis)proportionate influence in my life. Because, let’s face it, fear can be an all pervasive, multi-facetted distorter of reality, becoming the most fulfilling of all self-fulfilling prophecies. As the saying goes, whether you think you can or [fear] you can’t – you’re right.

As my journey into strength training persisted, the relationship between fear and the value of ‘daring greatly’ as Roosevelt would counsel us to do (and a principle that a very strong woman I know lives by) has come into sharp focus. It’s not just confronting the fear of competition, or of failure and embarrassment, but the willingness to put yourself out there against the norm. To be the person who looks slightly different, who might not be eating or drinking in the same way as others, to acknowledge your goals and be willing to dedicate yourself to achieving them. As laudable as that sounds, readers of this blog know that being *that* person isn’t always all that fun. Sometimes, I have no issue not drinking or saying no to chips (frankly the greatest food ever created), other times I feel like I have a giant neon sign above my head singling me out, still others I just fail miserably and eat all the fries ….

Then there are those rare and wonderful times where Roosevelt’s words resonate so absolutely that I derive not just an ability to pursue my goals but a deep sense of pride at the journey I am on to achieve them. It is at these moments that I truly understand his commendation that “the credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly…” Because, let’s face it, it is so easy for others to comment and to judge, to remark on our aesthetics or life decisions, all the while spectating. But I have, slowly, come to realise that it is to those people that we owe compassion. For when we come to reflect on our journey we can look back at a life we lived; with struggle, yes, but also with valour. It is those moments where (to coin yet another phrase) you ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’ that you feel most proud, and those people who stand on the sidelines in judgment, in the ostensible comfort of their own reservations, they never have that opportunity.

So on those days when the decisions are tough. Stay strong, be unwavering in your pursuit of excellence and stay in that arena – it’s a beautiful and bold place to be.

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