Fear Not

Posted on April 10, 2017

My greatest fear
Is that I’ll leave no trace
That I was ever here.

And I know that fear is irrational.

I have children
Who are growing into
Amazing young adults.

My partner would argue
That I matter to him.
My friends tell me
I make a difference.

They make a difference
To me as well
So I suppose I can understand that.

I was always the kid
Who worked behind the scenes
So that someone else
Could have the spotlight.

A lifetime of being told I wasn’t
Attractive enough
Thin enough
Tall enough
Smart enough
Popular enough
Talented enough.

A lifetime of being told
I wasn’t enough.
I didn’t matter
Except to help others achieve greatness.

The one thing that 
Brought me joy
Was writing.
Creating worlds and characters
Playing out my fears
And dreams
And challenges
On paper, under different names
Gave me an escape
From all the not-enoughness.

But I didn’t share my writing.
That would be taking the spotlight
Meant for someone else.

I wrote a book
And it got published
But it didn’t change anything.

I started writing
About things I was going through
About abuse
And depression
And anxiety
And trauma.

People started to take notice
And asked to share what I’d written.
I said yes but I didn’t understand
Why they liked it.

It wasn’t happy
Or inspiring
Or hopeful.

It was pain
And darkness
And tears
Shed alone.

I wrote another book
And had fun sharing it
But still nothing really changed
And the not-enoughness
Followed me.

Finally I stepped
Out of the shadows
Out from behind the scenes
And began to speak
My truth
My experiences
My pain
My longing
My fears
My hopes
My self.

And people responded
By saying lovely things
That I didn’t understand.

They said they wanted
To be here for me
To fight for me
To celebrate
Each step I took
In my own healing.

They said I was strong
And courageous
And beautiful
And talented
And inspiring
And even things like
Funny and charismatic

And quirky 
Though I think that
Might not be
A compliment.

I hear and see their words
And I still don’t understand.

If you knew me
Really knew me
My failures
And mistakes
If you saw
My apathy
My ignorance
The times I didn’t care enough
Didn’t try hard enough
Didn’t love enough

You would not say these things.

I don’t think I’m
Particularly inspiring
Or funny
Or beautiful
Or strong
Or brave
Or talented.

I see so many others
Who do so much more
Than I could ever do.

My lifetime of experience
Tells me that these people
Are the ones who 
Deserve the spotlight
The admiration
The praise
The love.

And yet that leaves me
Hiding again
Crying myself to sleep
In the hopes
That tomorrow
I will feel worthy
Of living another day.

I don’t like that option.

And what of all those
Who feel as I do
Yet are unable
Or unwilling
To speak
To share?

Perhaps the truth
Is hidden in paradox
That I cannot see
How others see me
The impact I have
The difference I make.

Perhaps the truth
Is that I can only be
Who I was born to be
Even if
A lifetime of experience
Tried to defeat it.

I can only shine
My own light.

All I can do
Is follow the joy
And do those things
That make me come alive
And shine.

And if my light
Shines on others
And they perceive it
As strong
Or courageous
Or beautiful
Or inspiring
Or loving

Then it is no less true
Because I know my own imperfections.

And if I practice
Following the joy
Speaking my truth
Sharing myself
Then perhaps
I can catch a glimpse
Of that light
And know
There was nothing
To be afraid of
After all.


  1. Sheyna Galyan

    Wow, Julie… that's high praise, and I'm not at all sure I deserve it, but in light of the poem itself, that's not my call to make. Thank you. I can only share myself and hope that it's enough, that what I can give to the world will help someone else in some way. To know that is everything.

  2. Unknown

    I garauntee he will.
    You are my hero. It takes alot to bare oneself, in words, song, whatever it is an act of great bravery, to share the endeavor is so special, to writer and reader alike.
    Read this to my kids this afternoon and all agreed…so awesome.

  3. Sheyna Galyan

    Thank you!

    I was able to hand it to him directly last Sunday afternoon. He put it in his jacket pocket. I hope he found/finds some time to read it.

  4. Unknown

    That's fuck'n beautiful…get that to him post haste!
    Twitter… @MishasMarauders or Julie Vaughn on FB

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