My dad, just like my grandpa and one day, my younger brother, has always been good at giving advice. He always finds a way to stay objective, to see the side of a situation you might not even consider, and can find a way to break down an answer that is simple and easy to understand, without ever sounding condescending. Recently we were discussing a situation, and while it didn’t directly involve me, I couldn’t help but feel inspired by his explanation.
“Have you ever seen Rocky III?” he said.
I nodded, though I couldn’t remember when and was sure I wouldn’t be able to recall specific details if needed.
“Well there’s this scene on the beach,” he said, “where Rocky and Apollo Creed are training, trying to get Rocky back in shape. Apollo counts them down to race, then takes off in the sand, running full speed, expecting Rocky to be at his heels. But when he turns back to check his lead, he notices Rocky stopped early in and is just standing there, hands on his knees, panting. Apollo throws his hands up, exclaiming ‘it’s over, Rocky’s over!’ but then Rocky’s wife, Adrian, walks over to Rocky to talk to him. ‘Why did you come here?’ she asks and Rocky shakes her off, saying he’s done, that he’s not into in anymore, but she pushes him, knowing it’s something else. And so they go back and forth, her continuing to dig, him getting more frustrated, until she finally says, ‘What’s the truth damn it?!” and Rocky says, ‘I’m afraid, alright! For the first time in my life, I’m afraid.”
My dad went on to explain the context of the story and why it fit the situation we were trying to work out, but even after he was done talking, I couldn’t stop hearing those words: “I’m afraid.”
I thought of all the times I’ve made excuses just like Rocky, saying, “I’m just not into it,” or “I’m just tired,” or “it’s just not the right time” or any number of others. But how often are those excuses things truer than, “I’m afraid?”
It’s so easy to bury fear and chalk up its side effects as reasons why we should quit, but just as Adrian says to Rocky, “there’s nothing wrong with being afraid.”
There’s nothing wrong with being afraid.
In fact, admitting you’re afraid is perhaps the bravest thing you can do.
When Adrian finishes talking to Rocky, laying everything out for him on why he can’t give up, he looks at her and says, “And what if I lose?”
She says, “Then you lose, but with no excuses, no fear. I know you could live with that.”
And when I think of the things I want to accomplish, the things that would be so easy to make excuses for and try to quit, only to regret the decision for the rest of my life, I know that Adrian’s right. Because if I gave it my all, made no excuses, and triumphed over my fear, but still didn’t accomplish what I set out to do, I’d know in the end it just wasn’t meant to be, and I could live with that.