Some have said that the letters of the word “fear” also defines what it is: “False Evidence Appearing Real.” How appropriate, because that’s exactly what it is. Most of the time, fear is just a manifestation of our imagination running out of control.

Fear, especially for college students, comes disguised in many forms.

There’s the typical fear of the unknown (i.e., outlook on employment after graduation, having to speak in front of your peers, uncertainty about meeting your financial needs, etc.).

Then there’s the fear of failure or rejection (i.e., failing your final exam, not graduating, not getting the job you want, etc.).

There’s also the uncommon fear of success. That right; believe it or not, some people are actually afraid to succeed (i.e., increased expectations, increased responsibility, feelings of guilt for having more than others, etc.).

All of these examples don’t even take into account the fear we have in our relationships, families, and personal lives.

Whichever your fear, neither one of the three previous types is healthy for you. Each fear has its own unique debilitating characteristics that can steal your dreams and sabotage your future. Your job is to identify which and how each fear is attacking you and learn how to conquer it effectively.

Now I don’t pretend to be an expert on the topic, but I have endured my own share of fear attacks. In fact, when I was a teenager growing up in the ghetto, sometimes it felt as if “fear” was the only friend I had. Over the years, I’ve achieved some “success” largely due to my ability to courageously face my fears. During those battles, I learned the following lessons:

Lesson #1: Fear and faith cannot exist in the same room.

Fear only appears where there is a lack of faith. Think about it, have you ever seen fear and faith in the same place at the same time? Of course not, because fear flees from faith. And if faith gets there first, it’ll chase fear away. Whenever fear is out lurking around our thoughts, that’s the exact moment when we need to put our faith in God. I heard someone once say, “I can’t, but He can, I won’t but He will, and I don’t, but He did.” God’s promises are more powerful than fear’s presence. When it comes to fear and faith, two’s a crowd.

Lesson #2: Fear has as much, or as little, power as “you” give it.

This is a very important point, and it’s a truth worth internalizing. If we feed our fears, it will only continue to get stronger and overpower us. And likewise, if we starve our fears, it will weaken and die on its own. I’ve been taught since I was a child that we should feed our faith and starve our fears. Unfortunately, most of us do the opposite; our faith is suffering from malnutrition while our fears need to go on an emergency diet.

Ask yourself, how much have you fed your faith this week, this semester, this year? Has your faith out gained your fear?

Lesson #3: Fear isn’t logical.

If fear was logical, couldn’t we just talk ourselves out of it? I think about some of the most illogical fears I nurtured as a high school senior. I was afraid to go to college because I didn’t think I was smart enough. Not only did I feel inadequate about my abilities, I was uncertain about my future. I always thought that I would eventually end up in prison, in a grave, or on a street corner like most of the young men I saw as a child. Now if you knew how supportive my family was and how strong their prayers were, you would know that my fear was totally illogical. And that’s the point, fear is almost never logical.

Lesson #4: Fear will steal from you until you arrest it.

A USA Today poll reported that 88% of working Americans said that they would change jobs if given the opportunity. The sad thing about this statistic is that all 88% do have a choice, and they’ve already made it. Another study reported that 85% of Americans said that they would like to start their own business, but five years later in a follow-up survey, the study revealed that only 12% of the 85% actually did. What’s my point? You only get one chance at life, but if you live it courageously, one chance is all you need.

Fear has stolen more dreams than the entire American prison population. Fear should be on the nation’s “Most Wanted” list. Everyone knows fear’s emotional characteristics: doubt, worry, nervousness, irrational thinking, etc., and we still let this known criminal into our homes, lives and dreams taking anything it wishes. We have the authority to arrest fear, we just need to exercise it. We need to lock him up and throw away the key.

I hope these lessons will provide you with a little strength and hope as you face your own fears. Even after you successfully overcome your fear, you can rest assured that another one is waiting for you just around the corner. I’m sure that you’ve heard the saying, “We don’t regret the things we do in life as much as we regret the things we didn’t do.”

As a college student, regardless of your past, your future is spotless. Choose making a life over making a living — face your fears! Keep stopping by for the latest strategies, tips and ideas from some of the world’s leading experts. Remember, the key to wisdom is knowing “where” to look for the answers. At RWU, our job is to find the answers, your job is to apply them. Please come again, and make sure to tell a friend.

Live purposefully, God bless!

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