Entering The 'Fear Tunnel'

If I had to choose just ONE thing to which I could attribute whatever ‘success’ I’ve enjoyed in life, it would have to be: BREAKING THROUGH FEAR.

Sure, I’ve had my brain, my tenacity, my sense of humor, and my loving and supportive friends and family to help me get through challenges. 

But really, the most important lesson I’ve ever had to learn (and continue to relearn, every day!) is how to get through what I call the “Fear Tunnel”.

The “Fear Tunnel” is what you enter when you’re headed somewhere new in life, whether that’s a new job, a new career, new school, relocation, life change such as divorce, a new business… absolutely anything that makes you say to yourself, “We’re not in Kansas anymore.”

Somewhere on the road to that new destination (whatever life change we’re talking about), you inevitably face the “Fear Tunnel”. 

It might appear on the first mile of a journey you really didn’t want to take in the first place, or it might appear out of nowhere as you’ve been driving along happily on a much-anticipated trip, enjoying sunny skies, windows down, wind rushing through your hair, favorite tunes on the radio. 

Whenever it appears, you screech to a halt.  “Oh crap,” you think, “I must have taken a wrong turn!” 

Surely this can’t be the way.  For the “Fear Tunnel” is dark and ominous, and you can’t see the end from where you sit at its entrance. 

There are no lights.  But there’s a small sign (you might miss it if you don’t look carefully) just to the right of the entrance, that says, “Have no fear - there are tracks to guide you in this tunnel!”

You’ve got a choice here.

Surrounding the tunnel are thick brambles on either side. 

There’s no way around it. 

You can either go straight through it, trust that your wheels will lock into those tracks, and keep your foot on the accelerator - or you can make a U-turn and head back.

Most people make the U-turn. 

(“Are you crazy? Trust that tracks will magically lock in my wheels and get me to the end of that tunnel, when I can’t see two feet in front of my car??”) 

And they return to their former existence - to whatever job, lifestyle, or relationship they’re used to. 

The one that feels safe and secure, albeit boring, unfulfilling, or even excruciatingly constrictive. 

As they report to bosses they can’t stand, make just enough money to get by, and spend their evenings watching their usual TV programs, they sometimes wonder...

“How long WAS that tunnel? Wonder if I could have made it?  Were there really tracks that would have guided me through?”

Or perhaps they never think of it again. 

Perhaps they think, as they did when they sat at the entrance of the tunnel, that anyone who would enter it is CRAZY.

And perhaps they’re right.  Because anyone who’s traveled through the “Fear Tunnel” knows that it truly is terrifying when you’re right in its center. 

You can no longer see the light behind you in your rearview mirror, and you’re not sure how long it’ll be until you reach the end. 

And when you’re in the pitch black of that space, you know there’s no turning back. 

You just might be a little crazy for entering this tunnel. 

And then again, sanity might be overrated.

And here’s where the magic starts - because all of a sudden you realize there is NO way you’d still be alive if there weren’t indeed tracks that your wheels had locked into for safety. 

Call those tracks God, or the Universe, or whatever gives you peace in your heart… but they’re there, hallelujah! 

And then, just as you’re wondering if perhaps you’ve been tricked into locking your wheels on a dangerous course that’s headed for certain disaster, you see it. 

A faint glimmer that grows brighter and larger with each passing moment, until suddenly your field of vision is flooded with blue sky and sunlight. 

As you exit the tunnel, you breathe in the fresh, clean air and realize YOU MADE IT. 

You came out on the other side, and your beautiful destination awaits you like a parent waiting with open arms to embrace a child.

And here’s the kicker. 

As you take a parting glance in the rearview mirror at that terrifying tunnel, you blink, astonished.

The road’s been wide and clear all along. 

You can even see the other travelers far behind you screeching to a halt at the imaginary tunnel’s entrance and turning back in fear, afraid to enter a tunnel that isn’t even there.

So how about you? 

Have you entered the “Fear Tunnel” lately?  Are you in it right now? 

Remember, the tracks WILL appear to hold you steady, just when you need it most! 

And you’re certain to come out on the other end at your destination.

Because the imaginary “Fear Tunnel” rewards all who enter it with their dreams come true.

Helen Hunter Mackenzie