What’s Your Biggest Fear?


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A few weeks ago, I had the honor of being the keynote speaker for an incredible event that brought nearly 700 women together through fitness. I was asked to share my journey and how it’s impacted my life.

In Philadelphia Magazine, and on social channels it was displayed as such; “In the face of unexpected hardship and pain Jayel Lewis learned that the only way to overcome obstacles and rebuild the pieces of her life was to quit pretending to be perfect and just get real- with herself, her friends, her family. Through her inspiring story, Lewis will share how that one decision indelibly changed- perhaps even saved- her life.”

While preparing my speech and trying to find the right words that would connect to an audience that knew little to nothing about me, I found myself having a difficult time. Should I introduce myself, should I go right into my story, should I start from the beginning, or maybe the end? These were all questions that I didn’t necessarily have an answer to, but as time went on, I was left with one question…

What is your biggest fear? 

That’s how I opened my speech because it would get people thinking about what they were afraid of, it’s something we can all relate to.

As I went on to share my journey, and my story, my heartbeat began to slow down, my breathing was no longer shallow, and I didn’t have this sense of urgency when it came to explaining every little detail. I was at peace, I was in a place were I actually felt comfortable, and empowered to share how my story and how my biggest fears have lead me to where I am, and to who I am today.

Just a few years ago I was so incredibly uncomfortable telling people about where I was in life, because at the time I saw it as defeat, I saw it as something negative and was unable to see the possibility of it becoming positive. I was in a very dark place and didn’t know the “right” way out. I was so accustom to holding my feelings in and not sharing them with anyone, but by doing so; that made me sick. Not only physically, but mentally as well. Whether I liked it or not, I was living a lie, a lie that would eventually become my truth…

Although it often takes a lot of guts, and a lot of balls to share your truths, now matter how difficult they may be, that’s what will ultimately set you free. You see, we all have a choice- how we comeback, how we suffer, and how we overcome some of our biggest fears, whether they’ve already happened to us or not. What we take from those situations, and what we choose to apply to our everyday life is up to us.

It’s on us so we begin to pave the way for others; for others to find their voice, and to share it. We all have a voice, believe me, we do…we just have to have enough balls to speak up to whoever is  listening, and by doing so we begin to create a cyclic cycle, a pattern of positivity, of acceptance, and other women embracing one another for it all. Although the struggle may be real, we have to understand that we don’t have to struggle alone.

At the end of the day, most of us are fearful of the same thing – experiencing pain. Although the cause may be different, we fear suffering the same effect.

My fears…? At the time they were relevant, they ended up becoming my own worst nightmare, but it was also those individual fears that taught me lessons of how to overcome unexpected hardship, what success means, what triumph takes, and what defeat feels like. Without them, I wouldn’t be able to continue to speak my truths.

For the full speech: Click Here 

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What’s the worst that can happen?

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I’ve struggled with bouts of anxiety for as long as I can remember. I often try to fake it; inhale my strengths and exhale my weaknesses. It works-for about 60 seconds and then it comes back. Anxiety is an emotion linked to fear. Mostly, we’re afraid of failing. It’s not that we’re afraid of swimming, we’re afraid of drowning. We must relax, and find time for ourselves. Think of the worst thing(s) that can happen. I’ve done this, and still do, and I can also tell you that it changes nothing. My worst-case scenario happened…my husband left me; I had no friends, no money, and no exit strategy, blah, blah, blah. But I’ll tell you what I’m still here. My husband leaving was a blessing in disguise. I was no longer fearful of him leaving; he already did it. I made some pretty amazing friends that I now consider family, who I know are there to support me through some of life’s toughest moments. I had no other option than to be dependent on myself, learning I was the only person I could truly trust. At the time I didn’t have a plan but decided it was time to come up with a damn good one. Asking yourself what YOU want is key. I often planned my life around what was expected of me (by others), and we see where that led me. I began to be a little more comfortable with the uncomfortable feelings; I was in control for once. Although happiness doesn’t feel like something we can control, we are in control of our actions that in turn lead to happiness.

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