13 Signs You're Scared In A Good Way, Because Sometimes Fear Means Something Wonderful

There are some symptoms of fear that are consistently present regardless of whether the fear is good or bad: Your heart will start racing, your palms will start sweating, and, if you're anything like me, then you'll swallow your excess spit so many times that bystanders presume you have a rock stuck in your throat. Assuming you're older than five, you've probably heard that some types of fear are better than others, and that experiencing a manageable amount of it is good for your health—but when so many of the associated thoughts and sensations look the same in both cases, how are you supposed to tell the "good" fear from the "bad" fear?

Often the good kind of fear comes into play when we are rising to a challenge in our lives, particularly one we might not have a lot of experience with. It could be a first kiss with a crush, or the interview for your dream job, or a big move across the country. I think the major distinction here is that good fear comes from situations that we choose to be in, instead of situations that are thrust on us without our control. It's the kind of fear we are compelled to and actively seek out, because even though it's uncomfortable and icky and weird, we ultimately understand that it is necessary to get where we need to be. Here is how you can tell the good kind of fear over the bad kind:

You’re anxious for something to begin, not for it to be over

The bad kind of fear is more of a dread, that comes with an instant relief as soon as the object of fear is out of your life for good. But with the good kind of fear, you're concerned less about when it will be over and more about when you get the chance to start.

You talk or think about it a lot, instead of avoiding it

Real life example: I just moved to New York last week. Was I petrified before I moved? Hell yes. Have I shut up about it for more than five consecutive minutes since I first decided to do it? Hell no! When you feel the good kind of fear, it's something you want to share with people, talk about incessantly, and get perspectives on, whereas most people tend to avoid—both internally and conversationally—the things that scare them in a negative way. When something brings us actual foreboding instead of anxious excitement, we'll do whatever we can not to bring it up.

You think more about what could go right than what could go wrong

The words "what if" and "yeah, but" are the tiny little saboteurs of success that stem directly from the bad kind of fear. When you feel the good kind of fear, you're more likely to visualize yourself nailing that audition or trailblazing that career change than you are likely to visualize yourself failing.

The fight instinct is stronger than the flight instinct

The good kind of fear compels you to do something about being scared, to face it head on, whereas the bad kind of fear is the kind that you would drop and run away from if given the chance. You especially know it's the good kind of fear if you would be sad at the idea of the source of that fear going away.

You don’t lose sleep over it

Whether or not I am able to sleep at night has always been a huge indicator for me in life decisions. Even before big scary auditions or the day I started at a new school, I slept with the resolve of a human being who knew that they were doing the right thing. Other times, when I've dreaded the thing I feared, I'd be restless and upset all night with it nipping on the heels of every other unconscious thought.

You have control over the fear

You chose to feel the fear instead of the fear choosing to overtake you, and that means something. Even though it might mount and feel ever-present, you always have the ability to take a deep breath and remember that you only put yourself in this situation because you knew you could handle it.

You can identify the root of the fear

Sometimes the bad kind of fear is as bad as it is because it is so generalized that you can't even voice out loud what it is you're scared of. People with anxiety endure this every day. But with the good kind of fear, you know exactly what the source of it is, which makes it that much less mysterious or terrible.

It inspires you to focus

The good kind of fear is different from the bad kind because it serves a motivator rather than a distraction.

You are every bit as excited as you are afraid

You know how sometimes! Your thoughts are kind of like this! Where everything is a little too chipper! And maybe a little loud! But you don't really mind!!!

That's the good kind of fear at its best (and maybe most annoying).

You reach out to people about it

The good kind of fear tends to come from things that are common to the rest of the human experience; things that people you know and love go through, or will go through and also fear. It's what makes up the stories we tell friends when we're first getting to know them and start to feel like we can really connect.

In the moment that most counts, the fear calms down and becomes background noise

Something bigger and more powerful takes a hold of you when you are actually facing the thing you fear, and that's how you know you were meant to brave it in the first place.

You’re proud of yourself after you have done it

With the bad kind of fear, you are just grateful to have gotten past it, but with the good kid, you genuinely feel like you accomplished something.

You feel the need to do it again

You quite literally can crave the adrenaline from the good kind of fear, and once you reap the reward from facing it, you're conditioned to go after it more—which makes you that much more able to conquer the next step you face, no matter how big or small.

Images: EladeManu/Flickr, Giphy (5)