My dad dropped me off at school for my first day of senior kindergarten. I was really excited and nervous at the same time. I mean, I wanted what was on the other side of that door – new friends, learning new things, a wonderful teacher to guide my growth. But I was afraid of the unknown. I was afraid of looking like I didn’t know what I was doing. What if nobody liked me? What if I wasn’t smart enough? What if the sky fell? What if I got there and felt all alone?

My dad let me out of the car, and we walked over to the gate. He opened it and let me into the yard. I imagined the games we would play there at recess. He opened the door to the classroom for me. I went inside and he went off to work. As the door closed, I looked around and found…

An empty room. There was nobody there. I was all alone, and I had no idea why. Did we come on the wrong day? Was I in the wrong place?

There was a closet at the back of the room, the whole width of it. There were hooks and cubbies for every kid. I sat there in the dark closet and cried for what felt like an eternity. In reality, I think I was probably alone for 45 seconds. The teacher was literally just outside the door in the hallway. But I didn’t know that at the time. I only knew that my dad had left and I was all alone and I didn’t know how to fix it. I can still feel how afraid I was when I think about it.

My teacher arrived and consoled me, and from that moment forward, school and I got along really well. I made great friends, loved learning, and formed many fond memories. But I learned something about fear that day. It’s natural, and sometimes it’s right on. But it can also make mountains out of molehills. The stuff we’re afraid of is often not as dire as it is in our minds.

Not always, but a lot of the time, things will sort themselves out. We’ll figure it out. Help will arrive. We’ll learn along the way. We’ll get through it. And if it doesn’t work out? Even then, most people believe that their failures were worth it.

We are wired for survival. Our bodies as well as our life experiences teach us to be cautious if not downright afraid of the unknown. We must be prepared, right? But fear can get out of hand. It can keep us stuck in relationships, jobs, life situations that feel stagnant or worse because. It can keep us from pursuing our desires and curiosities and passions because of all the “What if’s.”

Fear. #thestruggleisreal. But it doesn’t have to stop us or keep us down.

I absolutely loved talking to Ayanna Sealey about the nuances of fear and how to move through it. It’s a part of the human experience that cannot be escaped or denied, and when we come into right relationship with fear, we create the space we need to rise to our highest potential.

I love the way Ayanna talked about what fear feels like when you’re following your passion. I believe that the more we become deeply aware of this feeling, the more we can empower ourselves to make choices that resonate, rather than allowing fear to be in charge. Because a life driven by fear never leads to fulfillment.

If you’ve struggled with fear (aka if you’re a human being), you won’t want to miss this. Check out episode #4 of Guts & Grace below, and let me know what resonates with you in the comments.

Once you’ve taken a listen, I invite you to become curious about fear and how it shows up in your life. Become a private detective. Learn to recognize your own patterns. Notice what fear feels like in your body. Notice when you’re making a choice just to calm that feeling down rather than tuning in to what’s really in your heart.

Ayanna incorporates her unique experience as a successful performing artist with her performance psychology education to coach other artists, as well as athletes, to drastically realize and elevate their peak performance.

Having danced for over 30 years – including training at the Alvin Ailey School in New York City and performing professionally as a ‘triple-threat’ dancer, actor, singer in Toronto (Disney’s The Lion King and the Stratford Shakespearean Festival) – Ayanna has taught hundreds of performers to get the most out of their performance.

Ayanna is extremely passionate about performance: whether on stage herself or whether coaching. She is highly committed to providing the tools that will help her clients to reach their fullest potential. You can find out more about her at