Fear is a Superpower


Okay, I admit it. I’m a Doctor Who fan. I been a Doctor Who fan since about 1982. The rebirth of the series has been fantastic. Lately, I’ve written about fear. In a recent Doctor Who episode, titled Listen, the Doctors latest companion, Clara Oswald, said some things I really liked:

“Didn’t anyone ever tell you? Fear is a superpower. Fear can make you faster and cleverer and stronger. … You’re always going to be afraid, even if you learn to hide it. Fear is like a companion, a constant companion, always there. But it’s okay because fear can bring us together. Fear can bring you home. Fear makes companions of us all.”

I like this quote because fear most often shuts us down, holds us in check, stops us from moving forward. But seeing fear as a constant companion is powerful. I like the image of my fear being a superpower, making me faster, cleverer, stronger.

For too many years my fear stopped me. My fear of what the world would think about my being gay held me under lock and key. I was sure I would become an outsider if I came out. I never imagined that I could have a leadership role in information systems in a corporate environment and be a gay man. I thought I had to work in theatre, or fashion or some appropriately artistic career to be gay. In the corporate world that I lived in, and in the marriage I created, my fear bound up my gay soul in a little tiny box in the corner.

I’ve always loved the way Doctor Who walks into the most frightening situations, with charm, and wit, and goodwill, and wins. When I think about my fears, like the Doctor, I want to pull out my ultrasonic screwdriver, do battle with my fear, and see it wither away.

I decided late last year to come out at work. And because of the senior role that I play at my company, I really wanted to come out in a way that was thoughtful, respectful, and big. I wanted to send a message to the larger organization that this is who I was. Each coming out had a level of fear. Some bigger and some smaller.

In the beginning, as I came out one by one, I was constantly surprised. The most macho men, it turned out, had gay sisters or a gay brother or gay friends. The universal support I received at each level of coming out was incredibly powerful, integrating and strengthening. It’s not that I wasn’t afraid every step of the way, I was. It was that in my heart I wore my fear like a badge of honor.

And every time I went through that fear door I felt incredible. Stepping through the fear and getting to the other side each time, has been so powerful and empowering. Sometimes I feel like a fear junkie. Not that I welcoming the fear, but I just want to step through the fear door and get to the other side of my fear and have the incredible integrating feeling of having gone through the fear.

So thank you Clara Oswald. I like my new superpowers.

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