I wouldn’t say I’m totally fearless – who would?

Photo: Ed Miles

Emma Gannon on how fear is an essential part of survival – until it starts to hold you back

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By Emma Gannon on

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I wouldn’t say I am totally "fearless" – who is? I think fear is an essential human reaction and necessary feeling; it helps us make good decisions and avoid walking into incoming traffic. But, I suppose, I’ve become much better at embracing fear and letting it be a part of my everyday life.

Every time I embark on a new project, a new book or a new podcast episode, I have a bit of fear, worrying about how it’ll be received, but that just makes me human and means that I care. It’s part of the process, but I also make sure I don’t give fear too much attention.

A turning point for me was a period of my life (a few years ago) when I definitely let fear start to win. I stopped saying yes to incredible opportunities to further myself or travel far away from home. I didn't recognise myself – I used to be the person who loved a challenge and loved saying yes to big adventures. Luckily, I found my old self again and worked with a coach to get back to my old state of mind. It was a learning that you shouldn't let anxiety become a part of you, it shouldn't define you – it's just something that happens, sometimes. I am glad we are living in a time when we can express our vulnerabilities on social media. Any time I've opened up, I've been met with heaps of kind and understanding advice.

I am pretty fearless when it comes to voicing my opinion, speaking up about something I care about or public speaking. These things feel very natural to me, now, and I know that I’d rather feel scared and do it, than not do it at all.

My style is definitely a way of "armouring up". My thick glasses make me feel confident, my red lipstick helps me feel a bit bolder in facing the day and bold block colours make me feel more confident than I am. I suppose you could say that I like "peacocking". When it comes to nice matching underwear, I think it can be something that makes you feel put together, despite no one else knowing or necessarily seeing it. Confidence can often be quiet or invisible — it’s not always the person shouting the loudest. 

Matching underwear can be something that makes you feel put together, despite no one else knowing or seeing it

Other women make me feel more fearless, such as Tasha from The Pants Project, who used gorgeous underwear to fall back in love with her body after being given a life-changing diagnosis, or Marie Colvin, the ultimate woman who looked fear in the eye every single day that she went to work as a war correspondent. 

Social media can be all-encompassing, responsible for all sorts of bad things, but it is also a tool that increases my confidence in many ways. I use it as a way to connect myself with other likeminded women, who lift me up and make me realise that we are more powerful when we work together. I have also realised that (despite society's messages) ageing is no bad thing; I become more fearless with each birthday that rolls around and realise I become more in touch with who I really am. I’ve realised it’s not about being perfect, or having all the answers, but about knowing my strengths. I am not good at everything, but I am really good at a few things and I am always trying my best. And that’s enough. That's what makes me feel fearless.


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Photo: Ed Miles
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