My Friend Fear Teaches Us That Magic Happens Outside Our Comfort Zones

When I saw the beautifully illustrated cover to the book My Friend Fear at a local boutique, I was immediately intrigued.

The combo of its eye-catching colors and thought-provoking title had me running back to my computer to reach out to its publisher for a copy to review.

Clearly this quick, self-help read was going to be about the power you achieve when you air your insecurities out the door and take bold chances (aka do things that cause you fear).

Let me begin by saying I'm somewhat of a scaredy cat. I'm afraid of everything. You probably wouldn't assume that right off the bat if you met me. I'm social, outspoken and love to have a good time—but when it really comes down to it, I stay between the lines.

With the exception of things I actually have to do (hop on sometimes awkward work-related phone calls, go on occasional blind dates, have unplanned run-ins with people I'd rather not see), I don't really go out of my way to do things that make me uncomfortable. The biggest risk I took was applying for a job without the experience it required—and that was a decade ago. It changed my life, and to think I was this close to not going for it makes me cringe.

Last year, one of my yoga instructors started off our class with a quote directed at the way we move our muscles (but was to be applied to life, too): "Happiness is on the other side of discomfort." That quote resonated with me, and shortly after she said it, I made a pretty bold decision to turn down a big trip last minute that I just knew wouldn't be wise for me to attend. I had so many emotions leading up to the decision to back down, but once I did it, it was one of the most empowering feelings I've ever experienced.

That decision was a biggie, but since the groundbreaking moment, the current extent of me stepping out of my comfort zone is going to birthday parties by myself. (Hey, it's actually a pretty independent feeling!)

Meera Lee Patel'My Friend Fear makes it all sound so easy. Of course she addresses her own past insecurities, but presently, she argues that nothing should stop you from doing the very opposite of what will keep you safe. And she's right. That fear existing inside of you is there to guide you in the direction that will change your life.

I have a really good life, and, overall, I can't complain. Living in Los Angeles and working in entertainment for the last decade has given me the opportunity to brush elbows with some powerful people and accumulate a pretty strong social circle full of folks who share my skills and interests.

But I'm still waiting for that groundbreaking moment. The few I can recall over the last few years have resulted from overcoming fear. Am I sick of the same thing day in and day out? The same routines? They're easy, they work and they keep me on a reliable path. But maybe I need to shake things up a bit.

In My Friend Fear, Meera points out that when we analyze the root of our fears, they all boil down to being alone. Whether we're worried about being rejected by a crush, not getting invited to a birthday party or moving to another part of town, it all comes down to being stuck with ourselves. But as she notes, when you're alone, you're still breathing, right? The world hasn't stopped. You can still walk around and explore. Really, what's the worst part about being alone?

Instead of harping on the fact that other folks are off doing different things with other people, take your alone time to create your own life. Explore new possibilities, meet some fresh faces. Create your own memories and stop relying on other people to experience them with you.

One of my biggest mistakes over the last decade has been relying on specific people to complete my happiness. And whad'ya know? The times I'm with those people, we have the exact same, predictable moments. Don't get me wrong—it can be a lot of fun, but it's way too comfortable. When I step outside of that comfortable social box, I have almost always have a unique (and wonderful) experience.

As I embark on a summer birthday this year, I've decided I need to plan a trip by myself. At some point within the 12 months that follow July 9, I'm going to do something for me and only me. Not a trip where I meet up with others or I know people in town. A trip totally by myself.

This book reminded me that none of the groundbreaking things that I think will just happen are ever going to occur until I do those awkward, uncomfortable things that I fear. The minute I let fear guide me into the unknown—as the book advises—that's when all the magic will happen.


If self-help books are right up your alley, you'll want to read THIS review of Healthy, Happy You.