How My Worst Fear Became My Greatest Strength

worst fear

“In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.”

― Albert Camus

I was fourteen years old, sitting in the doctor’s office with my eyes closed. My heart was pounding with anxiety, as I was waiting to hear the outcome. I had school myopia, a condition of near-sightedness that causes distant objects to be blurry.

“Quite common and nothing to worry about”, my doctor confirmed.

But as my vision got worse, I couldn’t help but wonder what my life would be like from that moment on, especially at school.

For a big-haired, geeky girl who was bullied by older, more popular girls since grade one, I was terrified of any kind of change and the fact that I now had to wear glasses was making me shiver.

After being beaten to unconsciousness and having a lock of hair ripped out, which left a bald spot on my head that took months to heal, I started wearing hats. And now, those huge, heavy eyeglasses became yet another thing to worry about, which made me seek out new ways to stay unnoticed.

Still, even though the outside place was cruel, being at home was a whole different story.

I was in my own world where learning and imagination ruled. My glasses reminded me of everything I was – curious, peaceful, and thirsty for knowledge and adventure – a hard working kid who had big plans for the future.

But then the morning would come and I’d dread going to school. There were countless times when I would forget my glasses on purpose because I feared I would be an easy target. Sometimes I would hide them in my school bag, until one day when my vision got worse and the doctor ordered me to wear them all the time.

I was constantly living in fear that someone might hurt me, so all I could think of was coming up with new techniques to defend myself. And despite my efforts to look less noticeable, the bullying continued when I suffered a concussion after being pushed, hitting my head on a metal desk rod. I had firecrackers thrown at me regularly. I was called weird a million times.

But living in fear and hiding from the world was not the answer. I knew that I had to face my worries so I decided that I was not going to stay where I was. I was determined to make a change.

It was time to take a deep breath and be courageous.

And while I was still afraid deep down and knew that they could hurt me physically, I believed that nothing could crush my spirit.

So I made a plan.

I practiced running fast in case I had to run for safety. I stopped wearing my hair down, and instead of hats I started wearing ponytails. I secured my glasses with a strap behind my ears so that they could not fall down and break.

And when I realized that the fear I was unwilling to face was just in my head, I was ready to embrace the reality and move forward. My love of learning and being in school was so much stronger and more important than the fear I felt.

Time went by and 16 years later, I finally found the courage to do LASIK (laser eye surgery). I was ecstatic, and the next morning when I woke up and realized that I could see without my glasses, I cried.

It was a moment of pure joy and happiness.

But as I got rid of my glasses, a part of me disappeared.

Somehow I lost that sense of boldness when attacking difficult problems and having the courage to deal with the fear of the unknown. While they may have looked silly to someone else and appeared to be a great cause for bullying, those glasses were my strength and my knowledge – I identified with them.

Today I don’t have self-esteem issues and I don’t fear people anymore. But it took years to get to where I am today.

And one thing that helped me overcome my shyness and gain more confidence – believe it or not – were my glasses. The ones I wear today.

Here’s what I mean.

A few years after my surgery I bought a new pair of glasses without correction lenses.

But I didn’t need to wear them. I chose to. Because even now after all the traumatic experiences and the strength I gained, I am not immune to fear and limiting beliefs.

When life gets hectic or I start working on a new project and that insidious fear creeps in making me doubt my ability to succeed, I put my new specs on and immediately change my perspective. I am that curious, big-haired, cheerful girl who doesn’t give up.

I speak in a lower tone. I am calm and creative. I believe in myself. I am ME. And I am more than confident to wear my “fake” glasses in front of others.

Still, even though people perceive me differently when I wear glasses today, I don’t need their approval and I don’t mind what they think of me anymore. I don’t need to look smarter. I don’t need to impress anyone. I know who I am.

This gives me confidence and courage in moments when I am most fragile and I don’t feel that I have what it takes to continue. And this is what matters to me.

You are who you truly believe you are.

So don’t let anyone persuade you that different means wrong. You have the power within you to change the way you see yourself and how you want to feel.

You have the ability to always be a winner and turn your fear into strength. Never lower your standards for someone else who doesn’t believe in you or can’t see your worth. Because you are worthy of your dreams, and everything you’ve ever wanted to achieve.

Never stop being different.

Who wants to be “normal” anyway?

What do you do to overcome low self-esteem issues and what are some of the ways you used to turn your fears into your strengths? Share your amazing stories in the comments!

22 thoughts on “How My Worst Fear Became My Greatest Strength”

  1. What a beautiful story and a great way to overcome your shyness and insecurities. I sometimes feel that wearing glasses helps me at work because people perceive me differently but I was always more confident without them when I wore contacts. And I love the idea of wearing fake glasses! I was also bullied at school occasionally because I liked doing my own things, not always wanting to play and do what everyone else was doing. Thank you for sharing this wonderful story, Tee.

    1. Thank you for your kind words Amber. I am sorry to hear that you were also bullied at school. And I am glad you stayed true to yourself without trying to fit in. Inspiring! 😊

  2. What an inspiring story! I’m so sorry that you were bullied when you were younger :( I think that, for me, overcoming self-esteem issues required me to love myself more than I used to. I accomplished this in a number of ways, but mainly through internal dialogue, self awareness, and positive self-talks with myself. I realized one day that I am the only person I need to impress–and that helped me a great deal.

    1. Incredible, Joshua! I completely agree with you. It took me years to realize that but in the end it was still I who decided to make a change and change my perspective. I’m glad you enjoyed the article. Thank you so much for your comment. Stay brilliant!

  3. This is such an inspirational story, Tee. It must have been very hard, especially at that age, to confront and find a unique way to stand up for yourself and fight your fears. I am sure a lot of people can identify them selves with your experience. With some those are glasses, with others – weight issues, lack of confidence about the looks, skin problems, communication problems, etc…all are so common…but surely, not everybody finds the right way to become more confident.
    My example is that I`ve always thought I was chubby, not pretty enough and I was especially ashamed of my “fat” legs…I felt very insecure until one day I decided to start dancing and do sports, both of the things I still do…Not only did I start feeling better, but I started receiving beautiful comments on – guess what? Yes, my legs…
    So, in a way, they became my advantage..I accepted them, just like you accepted yourself with glasses…And don`t ask me how I know it, but I am more than sure they look brilliant on you.
    Thank you, Tee. :)

    1. Thank you for your kind words, Nena!

      Your story is truly inspiring!

      I’m glad you managed to overcome that thought of having “fat” legs. I guess you only became aware of it when someone pointed that out to you, so you became too conscious about the way you look. And it’s funny how these kinds of statements can make us feel insecure.

      Still, you found a way to feel better and started dancing and exercising. What a wonderful way to look at things and change your perspective.

      Thank you for sharing your story. I’m glad you enjoyed the article.

      Stay true to yourself. You are beautiful!

  4. Wow! What a beautiful and inspiring story. I have been bullied before but it is nothing compared to what you have experience. I don’t know how it will impact to my life I have that same case. I find your story very inspiring, I hope this will help out kids and teens who have experience bullying :)

  5. Thank you Thea for your lovely comment, I am so glad you enjoyed the story.
    I am sorry to hear that you were bullied before and I hope you don’t experience any negative thoughts or feelings from it.
    I agree that we should share our stories and help others learn from our experiences so that they don’t have to go through it themselves. This is the best way to spread awareness and stop bullying once and for all. Trust yourself and stay positive. :)

  6. Tee, what a beautifully written experience! I want my girls to encapsulate all the confidence and strength you have shared through your words! Very touching 😘

    1. Thank you, Gayatri! I’m so glad you enjoyed the article.

      Your girls are lucky to have such an amazing mom who emits love and confidence everywhere she goes. Keep showing them that the beauty that comes from within – strength, courage and dignity – is already within them. Stay brilliant!

  7. Apart from being a touching story, it is very well written! It pulled me in just from the start. The sentence :”You are who you truly believe you are” is wonderful, the problem is that so many times we believe we are unworthy

    thank you for that post

  8. Thank you for your comment and kind words. You are right when you say “so many times we believe we are unworthy.” I see it everyday, people thinking they are unworthy of love, happiness, success. We fear our power to make a change and live exactly the way we want, to be who we want to be. But if we only looked a bit deeper into ourselves, we would see that there is no one and nothing stopping us from achieving what we dream of. Only us.
    You are in control of your life and there are no limits to what you can achieve.

  9. Thanks for sharing your story. It’s upsetting to hear what you went through though I am glad that schools are putting more emphasis on anti-bullying nowadays. I am also glad that you were able to overcome your fear and become confident of who you are as a person. Kudos to you!

    1. Hi Marjana, thank you for your comment and for your sweet words. Yes, it is a relief that many schools nowadays are working toward safer and better classrooms but there is still so much going on that we are not even aware of unless someone tells us from school. I will do everything I can to educate parents on bullying and how to deal with it. And sometimes it is not just students who bully others, but teachers too. Still, if we work together we can change the world. <3

  10. This is an inspiring story. I actually chose to write a blog analysis for my English assignment recently based on this article. It’s thoroughly engaging.
    I’ve recently come to realise I have great difficulty learning to love myself because of peer pressure and constant judgement from people all around me, and now I just generally feel down all the time without an apparent reason. It’s no fun.
    I’m glad I got to read your story. It made me feel better to know things don’t always stay bad. I feel inspired now and I’ll try my best to overcome my troubles :D

    1. Hi Kelsey,

      Thank you for your comment, it means so much to hear that you were inspired by my story.

      I can imagine the difficulties you are going through when it comes to loving yourself. It’s easy to believe what others are saying and accept life as it is.

      But it doesn’t have to be that way. You have to know that there is power in you to change the way you see things and how you react to people’s behavior.

      You have so much to offer to the world, you are unique and only you know what you want in life. Over the years, I realized that all those bullies who appeared strong on the surface were actually the weakest people I knew.

      So start working on loving yourself and finding ways to appreciate who you are and what you can do. To quote The WindFinder, always remember that, “You possess a unique force to change, enhance and mend everything you touch. Your mind is powerful.” <3

      Stay strong, trust yourself, and know that you are worthy.

  11. My fears and perceived personal weaknesses are what I am really starting to hone in on. Like you I am finding such reward from my efforts! Thank you so much for sharing your story.

    1. Hi Jerome, thank you for your comment. I am so glad you found inspiration in my story. Keep working on yourself. There’s nothing more rewarding than knowing that you’ve found your true self. Enjoy every step on your way to greatness.

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