Our Deepest Fear

Jaelen Buxton-Punch


July 17, 2013

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? …Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do… It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

So, I have this fantasy. Or, if I was truly being honest to all you blog readers out there, an obsession, about me – on a yellow bike – in brazil. My hair is in dread locks (a life change happening in less than a week), I’m wearing a STELLAR (yet functional) outfit of pale rusted pink shorts, navy blue Keds, and a white tee, and I’m riding throughout Florianopolis. Amazing, right? Yeah, I know. But first, I have to overcome my deepest fear.

THIS is where I spent my entire life preparing to be in the fall of 2013. I would graduate high school, go onto X top 20 college, and change the world with my phenomenal liberal arts degree, with a minor in pure brilliance. But, as I so often do, I started asking too many questions about that plan. Why? What for? For whom? And, most importantly, what am I trying to prove?

Education is a gift. In my short life I have been fortunate enough to attend some of the best institutions in the world, all in aim of acquiring what society characterizes as a “successful life.” However, how successful can my life truly be if I’m not changing the world in some small- or large- way? That plan, in all its conventionality and wisdom, simply didn’t work for me. I needed more. I needed different.

For fifteen years I’ve read text books about various communities, cultural practices, and lifestyles, but a textbook can only tell you, not teach you. So, I’m taking my education into my own hands for a year, and I plan to close the book and open my eyes. But first, I need to let my hesitations, founded in my traditional education, go.

My playing small does not serve the world.

Its okay to be different. Its okay to follow the road less traveled, and its okay to fail. Brazil, for me, could be a disaster. I could realize I don’t want to be a nurse, or I’m not a natural language learner, or simply that I’m not mature enough to live alone in a foreign country for a year. But hey, I’m okay with that! Life is about taking calculated risks, following your heart, and learning new things. So I’m liberating myself from the fear of being judged for deferring college. I’m liberating myself from the fear of being too far behind when I return. And I’m liberating myself from the societal norms only I was imposing. And, instead, I’m choosing to allow my yellow bike, to show me that I am truly powerful beyond measure.

Jaelen Buxton-Punch