Recently, I have been coaxing myself to face several of my fears that have provoked significant anxiety and avoidance for years. First, there is the social work licensure exam. I graduated with an MSW (Master’s degree in Social Work) in 2009. I have permitted fear to hold me back from taking this exam. I didn’t want to fail. I didn’t want to pay several hundred dollars for an exam I could possibly fail. Here I am, seven years later, not working in the profession that I am passionate about, feeling discouraged and surprised at realizing that it has been so long that I have permitted such fear to hold me back.
Well…I recently faced this fear head-on. I paid the $260 exam fee and am now scheduled to take the exam on Saturday October 15, 2016. My goal is to take the exam (pass or fail). I wish I had this strength back in 2006…but, despite this I know that I have always been doing the best I can with the strength, skills, and courage that I had at the time. That is the best that I can do. I am both excited and anxious about finally working through this fear. I can do this and I am!!
My second fear is working full-time. I have been on disability for major depression since 1998. I have been told over the years by mental health professionals to not mess with my disability. At the same time, I have gradually made improvements, taken on more responsibilities and my life has changed so much for the positive in the last few years. I finally have some curiosity about whether or not I could handle a full-time job. A full-time job in the profession that I am passionate about…mental health social work. It is scary because I risk losing my disability benefits if I work full-time. I have used my six month work pass working part-time. I am scared that I might not be ready or will not be able to handle working full-time. What if I am not ready and I lose my disability? It is scary and I have a legitimate reason to be concerned about this. At the same time, what if I am ready to take on a full-time job and work in the field that I am passionate about? It has been difficult finding a part-time job in the mental health profession. At some point, if I am to reach my full potential, I have to face this fear and attempt to travel beyond it. Yesterday, I did just that. I applied for a full-time position to work with the homeless population. I am scared….I am anxious….I am ambivalent…but I am determined to face more of my fears that have held me back for so long. I’m tired of holding myself back. I’ve been imprisoned by my fear and anxiety for so long.
I am going to call the local disability office on Monday to discuss what my options are and what is best for me to do. This is not out of fear…this is covering all of my bases before I take the next BIG step toward working full-time.
The message of this is fear is a heavy wall we can get trapped behind. Anxiety is real but it is a trap. We feel we must hide behind it to avoid the strong emotions and physical sensations. Sadly, this is what traps us. Instead, I have learned that when I face the anxiety and gradually find ways to move past it, I end up stronger than the anxiety itself. Don’t become imprisoned by your fears and anxieties. Find ways to gradually face them…create a plan. Your future self will be grateful that you did and more fulfilled. I am grateful that I did over the years and am still trying to move beyond these paralyzing barriers now.
Share some of your fears and anxieties. What are ways that you have faced them? I’d love to hear from you.