How Will Smith taught me how to reject fear and commit

So Will Smith is kind of a YouTuber now.

Yeah, you heard that right. Will Smith’s YouTube page is popping off currently. He’s at 3.5 million subscribers. His Instagram has some gems as well if you want to give him a follow. But don’t worry, he already has over 22.5 million followers after getting the account less than a year ago.

I started seeing on social media that Will Smith jumped out of a helicopter for his 50th birthday. My first thought was “Oh cool, another famous person doing something for the headlines.” But I was intrigued, I won’t lie.

I’ve always been a fan of Will Smith. Duh, as a child of the 90s I don’t know anyone my age who wasn’t. I stayed up late watching Fresh Prince in elementary school. I grew up 15 minutes from West Philadelphia (born and raised).

Will launched his YouTube channel and started posting constantly for six months leading up to this big leap of faith—in Arizona out of a literal helicopter. Over the Grand Canyon. K. Once I started clicking around his videos recently, I found a lot of what he had to say about WHY he was doing this crazy feat to be kind of amazing.*

(*You can find inspiration and joy anywhere you look, people. Even on a random celebrity’s Youtube page.)

Fear can be controlling

In one of Will’s first videos about his upcoming jump, which he streamed live on Sept. 25, he talked about the hold that fear had over him as a child and all growing up. He was always afraid of his aggressive military father. He let fears hold him back from doing things.

“I’ve had a whole lifetime feeling squashed and squelched and controlled by fear.”

He talks about this control that being afraid and living in fear has over our lives. This, he explains, as two fold.

First, fear kills our ability to see beauty.

By being so focused on the negative aspects of life, the impending doom of our present circumstances, the scary, the daunting, the challenging we end up seeing them as giant eyesores. Fear ends up being a constant dark cloud over our lives, clouding even the brightest experiences because we’re a little scared of what might happen.

And second, fear holds you back from taking the chances that you need to take to realize your dreams. 

Fear is more than a constant dark cloud killing the mood. It’s a roadblock even though you can physically move it out of your way. It’s a dead end that you create when you when you decide you don’t want to go any further. It’s deciding you’re lost even if you have a GPS and miles of gas in your tank. You can’t go after the things you want most in life if you let the fears you’re feeling hold you back.

Rejection of fear

Will talked a decent amount about his father, and while he was afraid of him as a child because of his aggressive nature, he taught him a very valuable lesson about fear. Will recalled a time when a gangster showed up at his family home to kill him when he was a teenager. The man pulled up in his car and placed a gun on the dashboard. Will’s father walked out to the car to greet him.

Will’s no-nonsense dad told the man that Will was inside and if he wanted to go ahead and kill him, that’s where he’d be. But that also, his entire family was in there and if he was going to kill Will he’d have to kill them all, because they weren’t going to put up with any BS threats.

Then he turned his back to the man and walked to his home and shut the door.

Will remembers being flabbergasted by his father’s brazen show of power against that gangster he pissed off. He remembered thinking how easily it would’ve been for the man to shoot his father in the back, but instead he just sped away. He remembers his dad showing a COMPLETE REJECTION OF FEAR in that moment and how empowering that lesson was.

Should you put yourself in harms way? No. Absolutely not. But this idea of REJECTING FEAR — “forget the fear and do it anyway” as many Instagram bios say— is powerful. It shows that we can laugh in the face of fear even when it seems scariest.

COMMIT!

After Will did the unthinkable and bungee jumped out of a helicopter over the Grand Canyon (casual) he was not surprisingly fired up. He entered into a passionate monologue where he repeated over and over again “You’ve got to commit!” At first, I was laughing a little about the repeated phrase and how silly it sounded. But in the end, the message rings so true.

Life is hard. But you still gotta commit. Don’t hesitate. GO. Commit. You can’t experience the joy that is intended for you in life if you don’t commit. Life is hard. Like yeah, you might get hurt. Your heart might get broken. You might lose your job. But you’ve still gotta COMMIT. And it’s like… you meet somebody and you like her and she likes you and you’re hesitating. Don’t hesitate. GO. Commit. You gotta commit. You might get hurt, you might lose something but you can’t experience the joy that is intended for you in life if you don’t GO. You’ve gotta go, man.”

You can’t experience the joy that is intended for you in life if you don’t go. That is some powerful stuff. I’ve talked before about how I think it’s critical to feel the negative things in life in order for the positive stuff to feel even more amazing. I think the same thing applies here.

There’s a lot of risks involved in life. Every day something terrible can happen. Most of us choose to wake up and face the day anyway. Committing means not bailing. It means going in, balls to the wall, taking the chance, showing up, and accomplishing something. It means going after an opportunity. It means walking away. It means speaking up. It doesn’t mean that it will be perfect. It doesn’t mean you’ll be successful. It doesn’t mean that it’ll end up how you expect. But that’s what life is all about. You’re missing out if you’re not doing any of those things. You’re living a muted form of life.

So thanks, Fresh Prince, for teaching us all a little something for your 50th birthday. I can absolutely promise you that I won’t be be jumping out of a helicopter anytime soon, but I can promise that I’ll be pushing myself out of my comfort zone every chance I get.

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