Eleanor Roosevelt on overcoming fear
“I CRAVED ATTENTION all through my childhood, because I was made to feel so conscious of the fact that nothing about me would ever attract attention or bring me admiration. I was told that I would never have the beau that the rest of the girls in the family had had because I was the ugly duckling….
I was ashamed because I had to wear made-over dresses from clothes that my aunts had worn… ashamed because I couldn’t dance and skate perfectly as others did… ashamed because I was different from other girls… ashamed because I was a wallflower. I still remember how thankful I was because a certain boy once asked me for a dance at one of those Christmas parties. His name was Franklin D. Roosevelt.
For over twenty years I was devastated by self-consciousness and fear. My mother, grandmother and aunts had been famous beauties in New York society, and I was ashamed to be the first girl in our family who was not a belle. My mother would sometimes say to visitors, “Eleanor is such a funny child; so old-fashioned that we call her ‘Granny.'” The big thing that eventually gave me courage was helping people who were worse off than myself.
For example, in 1910, my husband was a member of the New York State Senate, and he and eighteen other Assemblymen were waging a war against Tammany Hall. These Assemblymen spent much of their time holding conferences in our home in Albany both day and night. So I visited the wives of these men. I was shocked to find that many of them were spending their days and nights in lonely hotel rooms. They knew no one in Albany except their husbands.
I found that by trying to cheer them up and by trying to give them courage, I developed my own courage and self-confidence.
Fear is the most devastating emotion on earth. I fought it and conquered it by helping people who were worse off than I was. I believe that anyone can conquer fear by doing the things he fears to do, provided he keeps doing them until he gets a record of successful experiences behind him.” – Eleanor Roosevelt on fear and courage