Don’t Let Fear Hold You Back
By Jennifer Allwood
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. —Deuteronomy 31:6
We all like safe. It’s human nature to avoid hard things, and our normal tendency is to drift toward the safe thing in order to protect ourselves. I mean, who honestly likes to be scared?
Women especially like “safe.”
Women who have gone through hard things will almost always choose safe, because for the love of all things holy, they don’t want to go back to going through hard things again.
A woman who feels stuck, overwhelmed, and scared will almost always choose safe, because choosing anything else makes her feel very vulnerable, and she will avoid vulnerable at all costs. She’s already got enough big feelings as someone who’s scared, stuck, and overwhelmed.
So because of my fear, I decided that I would get a degree in computers so that I would have the potential for a great income one day.
I knew in my heart of hearts that I was making the wrong decision that day. I remember having a nagging feeling that a computer degree was an awful fit for me. It was a lump-in-the-pit-of-my-belly feeling that I ignored as I picked classes for my fall schedule.
In retrospect, that feeling was God trying to convince me to do the bigger, harder, scarier thing I felt called to, because as the creator of the universe, he had put that love of pretty things in me for a specific reason. But although I had become a Christian at age 16, I’d fallen off the faith wagon during my crazy year in college. It wasn’t until many years later that I really came back, so making a big life decision about my degree didn’t include prayer or godly counsel. It included a pack of Marlboro Light 100s to calm my nerves and doing what seemed least scary in that moment . . . computers.
I picked a degree and a future I had no interest in out of fear of messing up the safety and security of the life I’d built.
Can you relate? Gosh, I hate fear so much. It’s such a con artist and such a thief.
Fear Is a Liar
We know that fear is a liar. But it’s a realllllllly good one, isn’t it?
Fear will convince you to wait, ’cuz surely if you’re scared, it must be bad timing.
Fear will convince you to settle for less than what you deserve. I love the saying by Bob Goff, “Fear and insecurity will always try to talk us into settling for lesser things.” Isn’t that the truth?
We can all think of someone who is in a horrible relationship. And to us it’s so obvious, right? Why did she settle for that knucklehead? But I guarantee you, she settled out of fear. Fear that no one better would come along. Fear that she would be alone forever.
Fear makes us hide. It makes us play small so that others won’t see us. Sometimes that means really small.
Anyone else got an issue with feeling exposed?
I have always been this way. My fear of being seen isn’t a new thing since being successful in my business, but the success has amplified it and makes me want to hide even more.
Maybe you don’t have a fear of failure or a fear of being seen. But do you have a fear of success? A fear that if you become successful you won’t be able to keep up, to sustain it, to keep it?
I’m telling you, people (me included) do weird things all the time when we start to see a little success.
But fear isn’t just about business. There are studies that show sometimes women will not lose weight that they need to for fear of drawing unwanted attention to themselves or fear of being noticed.
Fear does strange things to us. It makes us act irrationally and behave in ways we know are not good for us.
So between being stuck, overwhelmed, and scared, it’s no wonder so many women are playing small. It feels like so much work is required to get past those things, doesn’t it?
It took me five long years of working full-time during the day and going to school nights and weekends to get my degree in Computer Based Information Systems (what does that even mean?).
I was 30 years old and married by the time graduation rolled around, and I was feeling like a rock star because the end of night school was in sight.
One weekend, not long before graduation, Jason and I went to a home show in Kansas City because I was still obsessed with houses. As a newly married couple, Jason and I had purchased a new home, and I was itching to decorate it. And there at the show, tucked in one of the aisles between the shutters and the air conditioners and the deck remodelers, was a talented couple who taught classes on decorative and faux painting. Until that moment, I didn’t even know what that was.
As soon as I walked into their booth, I felt my heart begin to race. You creatives get this. It was like being surrounded with colorful, delicious eye candy. Everywhere I looked there was more stimulating goodness—all these amazing textures and colors that could be put onto walls and cabinets. My mind was racing with the possibilities for our own home.
This couple taught weekend-long painting classes, and I signed up to go to one, just for fun. (Side note: this is what I call a gateway drug. God often uses something you aren’t even looking for to pivot you and lead you to your calling. It often seems like something little and exciting, but it’s often setting you up for the big thing God really wants you to do.)
My friend, that weekend changed my life . . . and my career and my future. I became obsessed with paint. With the smell, the feel, the colors, the textures, and how I could use it to make anything pretty!
Even though I was less than a month out from graduating with honors with my computer degree, I went home and told my husband I wanted to start a painting company as a side hustle to my day job. Thank God that he gave me the thumbs-up on my idea, because it made no sense.
I graduated and began working in my blah, blah, blah job of software development. Insert all the yawning GIFs. I am so grateful for smart people who understand computers, but I was not and am not one of them.
I wore my pantyhose and fancy pager (are you old enough to remember those?), and I should have felt like hot stuff, but I was dying on the inside. I could never shake the idea that there had to be more to life than this. I couldn’t stand watching the clock until 5:00 every day, the commute, the meetings, the schedule. Ew. I’m still triggered just thinking about it.
It was not who I was, but I was so scared to do anything else that I stayed stuck in a job that wasn’t for me, and then hated myself for not having the guts to do something that I wanted to do. I knew I’d never quit the computer gig to do painting full-time, though, because SRPs don’t give up their 401(k) matches to roll the dice on being self-employed. They just don’t.
Enter divine intervention. (That’s code for God is big enough to sort out the mess I made and still get me to do what I was supposed to be doing. That’s why he’s God.)
I started The Magic Brush (I know, cheesy) in 2000 and painted on nights and weekends after working at the computer job all day. I wasted my employer’s time Monday through Friday searching the internet for new painting ideas and dreaming about having a job that I didn’t hate every day. Insert all the hanging head emojis, because Jen, what were you doin’, girl?
Eventually, though, my day job caught on to the fact that I was wasting their time and they laid me off. Thank the Lord, because otherwise I would have grown old and died there in that cubicle with pantyhose on.
Now that I was jobless, though, I decided to try to make something out of this little painting gig. If I could get enough customers, maybe I wouldn’t have to go back to that pantyhose and pager life.
And guess what? It worked. I looked up every designer and decorator in my part of Kansas City in the Yellow Pages (a dinosaur of a book) and either called or showed up to every one of them.
Now, as an introvert, I am happy to never leave home and talk to no one. But desperation will make a girl do things she otherwise wouldn’t. God can work with desperate! I was willing to do anything to avoid going back to corporate America.
I landed some amazing painting jobs with some high-end decorators and homes, and I ended up owning that painting company for 17 years and working in three homes for Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. Our painting was in sought-after homes in parades, on TV, and in magazines. And that eventually led me to coaching other creative women on how to build their local businesses online. It was my honor to own that company for so long.
Yes, my life is lovely without having that decorating degree, but I’ll always know that fear made me choose safe, and it cost me years (five, to be exact) of life while I slugged it out in night school. And that makes me sad.
Sad enough, in fact, to write Fear Is Not the Boss of You for you so that I can help you to do things differently. I am writing for you the book I needed at that time in my life.
Adapted from Fear Is Not the Boss of You: How to Get Out of Your Head and Live the Life You Were Made For by Jennifer Allwood. Click here to learn more about this title.
YOUR FUTURE AND YOUR DESTINY ARE TOO IMPORTANT. DISCOVER HOW TO GET UNSTUCK AND OVER YOUR FEAR.
This book is for any woman who has ever been overwhelmed with indecision, paralyzed with fear, or just plain stuck. With no-nonsense biblical truth, Fear Is Not the Boss of You is a loving kick in the backside that will catapult you into ACTION. Successful entrepreneur, business coach, and girl next door Jennifer Allwood is your guide to show you why you can’t stay stuck, teaching you how to get out of your own way and get on the road to fulfilling the life of your dreams—even if you’re afraid.
Whether you’re thinking of launching a new business, adopting a child, writing a book, or competing in a triathlon, Jennifer will motivate you to move from paralyzing fear into courageous obedience and action. With stories, straightforward truth, and practical tips you can apply today, Jennifer will show you how to:
- Identify how and where you are stuck
- Determine what’s holding you back
- Get out of your own way
- Empower those around you
- Experience the incredible joy that comes from trusting a big God to do big things in you and through you
This is your gutsy invitation to go after the big dream God has called you to . . . because fear is not the boss of you.
Jennifer Allwood is a passionate cheerleader of women who adds biblical truth to the modern day “dream big” mantra. Her no-nonsense approach to doing things you are scared to do and saying yes to God is helping women everywhere build the life and business of their dreams. When she’s not coaching her nearly 3,000 clients each month, she’s living the dream in Kansas City with Mr. Magic (her husband, Jason) and their four wild kiddos—Noah, Easton, Ava Grace, and their new bonus kiddo, Ariana. Oh, and their Goldendoodles, Stella and Lola, the best dogs on earth. Follow along with Jennifer at jenniferallwood.com.
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