Heading home from Milan and looking over my first drafts of the editorial calendar for Vilda Magazine, I found myself pausing to look back on the origins of the project, my original ideas and appreciate how quickly everything's happening - I first applied for the Marie Claire Inspire & Mentor Scheme in May and Vilda is launching in November. Something that was once only an idea in my head is now becoming a reality. And there it was: fear.
I scare pretty easily. I've suffered from panic attack since my teens, and what is panic if not condensed, extreme fear? Even in my day-to-day life, there's an endless list in my head of all the things that scare me: spiders, the dark, lifts (yes, lifts!), horror movies, going to the dentist, trying handstands in yoga "because I might fall over backwards", roller coasters that go upside down, scorpions, extremely crowded spaces, cockroaches, days when David doesn't answer his phone and, for some weird reason, certain songs. I don't even have a driver's licence because the idea of having an accident and hurting another person or animal terrifies me. I've always been the girl who's afraid: too scared to go on the wild rides, too afraid to walk home at night by myself, the one that constantly worries that everyone is all right. But at the same time, I've always done things that people consider scary, like moving to a different continent at nineteen, quitting a permanent contract to go freelance, heading off to another country with 200€ in my pocket and zero connections, and now starting my own magazine. Because I'm afraid of fear itself, but at the same time it attracts me (this is only true for cool stuff like moving to a different country. I don't believe in all that "face your fears" crap. No amount of looking at a spider, holding a spider, getting cozy with a spider would convince me that I'm somehow not terrified of spiders).
I remember my first real brushes with fear, eleven years ago, when I was sitting on the floor of my parents' bathroom on a chilly summer night in Stockholm, crying my heart out. My suitcases were packed in the other room: I was due to take the plane the following morning to my new life in Los Angeles. I was beyond terrified and had pretty much made up my mind not to go. It was too much, too far away from everything I knew, I was going to be too lonely and never make it on my own. Then I heard my inner voice saying: you've been dreaming of this your whole life and now you're not going to go because you're scared?
I remembered every time I'd performed in public (I did a bit of acting and singing as a kid) and how terrified I'd been each time and how I'd gone out anyway. I also remembered all the chances I didn't take because of fear. And I got on that plane.
That was the first of many plane trips: I subsequently moved to Milan, Florence and now London. Fear was always present, but I learned that most of the time, things have a way of working out. In Florence, I'd constantly worry about not finding a job - after two months, I did. When living in Milan, I'd wake up on most nights sweating, thinking about my rent and bills - even so, I always managed to pay them. Whenever David's phone was disconnected, I'd panic - what if something happened to him? But in the end, he was always okay. It often turns out that fear is just an illusion.
Sure, sometimes things don't go as planned. I've been thrown out of my house while abroad (came home to find all my stuff in black bin bags), both David and I have had illnesses in the family and don't even get me started on all the opportunities I've gone for and lost. S**t happens, that's life. But being afraid will only cripple you. Life's challenging enough without the waste of time that is worrying.
So I am still afraid. Lots of things about the future (and the present) scare me. The fact that I've taken it upon me to single-handedly create an entire online magazine is beyond scary. But I don't think that courage is not being afraid. It's being afraid, feeling the fear and doing it anyway. So I'm just going to dive into it and see how it goes.
Picture from Pinterest