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Fear is Your Friend


Sarah J Eagen theatrical headshotMy alma mater, Knox College, has had a slew of incredible commencement speakers over the years; Barak Obama, Stephen Colbert, Bill Clinton, and Madeleine Albright, to name a few. In 2013 none other than actor and funnyman Ed Helms graced the stage with a talk that was simultaneously entertaining and heartfelt.

Ed’s speech focused on fear, the effect it has on us, and the role it should play in our lives.

I encourage you to watch his entire speech, but here are some of the gems…

“One of the most valuable and life-informing things you can experience is, in fact, FEAR.”

“…let it be a trigger for curiosity”

“Looking deeper into my fear revealed something I truly wanted”

“Success lies in the tension between fear and discovery”

His words really made me think about the moments when I come across fear and resistance in my professional life. WHY is the fear there? What does it stem from? It made me realize- the fear is there because the stakes are high for me. I’m afraid of failing, but WHY am I afraid of failing? Because I care more about the outcome. Because I want it more. And while fear may not be a particularly fun emotion to experience in the moment, what a great compass it is to feel fear and be able to translate it to mean “this is important to me.” The big potential projects I feel fear about are the things I want most. And that tells me I am on the right track 🙂

“When you run away from fear, you also run away from the opportunity to be your best possible self.”

I’m trying to make it a practice to step into that fear instead of shying away from it. Only by investigating and exploring the things I fear can I get closer to the things I really want and begin to work towards them. Instead of fear being an enemy that prevents me from moving forward, I am making fear my friend. I encourage you to do the same 🙂

This article originally appeared at

Sarah J Eagen

About Sarah J Eagen

A TV actor and writer, Sarah is currently a semifinalist for the prestigious Humanitas NEW VOICES program. She was recently staffed on the sci fi audio drama The Veil from Voxx Studios. Sarah co-wrote/produced/acted in the short Soledad, which screened on the Disney lot at the end of 2018. She was a top 10 finalist for the Stage 32 TV Writing Contest in 2019, a finalist for the NYTVF Script Comp in 2018, and the Women in Film/Blacklist Episodic lab in the fall of 2017. Sarah recently appeared on an episode of The Big Bang Theory, TV's longest-running multi-cam comedy, which was a dream come true because she double majored in Neuroscience and Theatre. She also played the helpful paralegal Carol in CBS's action comedy Rush Hour, and had the pleasure of sharing the screen with funny lady Kristen Schaal in the feature film Austin Found.