Our Deepest Fear is… What Exactly?

By Luz Feliz

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” -Nelson Mandela

I first came across this quote while watching Samuel Jackson’s movie, Coach Carter. Years later, I would have this quote tattooed on my arm, and be living a life that represented just that.

I started working at Join Rise Be in February of 2016. 5 ½ years later, I had worked my way up through 4 different positions, transitioned with the agency between multiple locations and most importantly have been able to see transformation and growth within myself.

Back in February 2016, I had a very all or nothing mentality and I began working at the company to cope and distract myself from negative things that were occurring around me. I was stuck in a never-ending spiral of depression, suicidal thoughts and attempts, low self-worth, and an understanding that I was never going to be able to break out of that cycle.

As time went on and I began to see that there were different ways to heal and cope with the adversities of life, I began to utilize different tools and take back my control. I would attend yoga classes, participate in mindful coloring and attend various support groups. I became determined to get to work every day, despite having to take 3 buses there and 3 buses home for what used to be a position of only 8 hours a week. Over the years, I voiced my experiences within the mental health system to influence policy makers so that they were aware that alternatives exist and there is no one mold we must all fit into in order to achieve recovery. In addition to working my way up through various positions and making connections across the state, I was able to use my life as the embodiment of the famous Coach Carter quote.

Far too many times, the lack of control over our lives doesn’t only stem from the stigma and discrimination that comes with receiving mental health services. On the contrary, many instances occur because we believe the manifestations of providers and become content with the bar they set for us.

Had I listened to the countless providers I interacted with since the age of 14, I wouldn’t be here today, never mind in this capacity. I would have been “in an institutional setting for the rest of my life” because I was “lethal” as they would often say. Instead, here I am- working a full-

time job, independent with my own transportation and living space, medication free after 12 years, with a college degree, a family, and in charge of my own life.

Although I know everyone’s journey is different and success has a different meaning to different people, the most important thing to remember is that YOU have the power to decide what happens in YOUR life.

Our deepest fear is often not that we can’t accomplish something or be great, but rather that we will be amazing and successful. Due to this, the biggest thing that holds us back from greatness is our own self.

What will you set out to do this month?


***For the full quote: Nelson Mandela’s “Our deepest Fear”