Fearless is a practical handbook aimed at helping young people gain the confidence to be themselves. The book is written by Liam Hackett founder and Chief Executive Officer of the global youth charity Ditch the Label. This is a digital charity, widely respected for its work on anti-bullying and support of young people aged 12-25 years old across the UK, USA and Mexico.
Fearless addresses seven fears affecting young people today, which are the titles for each chapter. The seven fears and chapters are: ‘Fear of being yourself’, ‘Fear of being judged’, ‘Fear of not fitting in’, ‘Fear of your emotions’, ‘Fear of expressing yourself’, ‘Fear of being a failure’ and ‘Fear of not being good enough’.
Each chapter begins with exercises encouraging the reader to reflect upon who they are and what society expects. These social prejudices and stereotypes, that Liam Hackett refers to as ‘labels’ and ‘invisible boxes’ can be helpful, but he also notes can be harmful if they constrain us from being who we want to be and stop us from doing what we want to do. Such labels and invisible boxes are significantly gendered, something he examines throughout the book. Chapters continue with an informed explanation of each fear, drawing upon insights from psychology, biological understanding of how our bodies react as well as historical social change. Finally, there is plenty of good advice and practical strategies to tackle this fear, such as a succinct ‘Top Ten Tips’ section.
The strength of Fearless however is its inclusion of real people’s real-life experiences of these fears. There is an ‘Ask Liam’ section in which Liam addresses the concern of a young person. In the introduction and throughout the book, Liam Hackett refers to his experience of being bullied and which eventually inspired him to found Ditch the Label. There are also life stories from Sam Renke (actress and disability activist), Adam Pearson (disability rights campaigner, actor and presenter), Genny Tura (head of support at Ditch the Label), Jacob Blyth (professional footballer), Jake Graf (transgender writer, actor and director), Vicki Shotbolt (founder of website, Parent Zone), and Michelle Elman (body confidence coach) as well as a host of others. Perhaps, most importantly, they have all survived and are successful!
Fearless presents in a lively, engaging format three key messages for me.
(1) Don’t be boxed in by society.
(2) You are not alone: there are many like-minded people.
(3) You and society can change.
In the language of this book, young people’s fears are ‘smashed’ to live a ‘fearless’ life.