Usually, on Sundays, I take the time to repost some of my photos that I posted to my Tumblr site earlier in the week.
But I’ve decided to change things up a little bit. Life is boring if you do the same thing over and over.
So…one of my good friends from high school and a frequent commenter on this blog got me to thinking about dreams that were pushed to the side because of our fears. She mentioned that she made a decision to not pursue a communications major because she felt that she wouldn’t be good enough (even though she was the darling of our HS English teacher…the Joan). I replied, remarking that I felt the same way…I really wanted to major in Journalism in college but didn’t because I felt I wouldn’t succeed. I was so vested in the idea of just graduating from NU that I didn’t care how I did it, I just wanted to get ‘er done. I didn’t push myself as much as I think I should have, and I really regret that.
All of this is irrational fear. Now both of us are grown up, feeling some measure of regret because we allowed our fears to talk us out of what it was we really wanted to do. We can’t go back and change that. And that’s the downside of Fear. It leads to missed opportunities, regrets and time wasted that you can’t get back.
Here are some of the fears that I’ve had to learn how to face down…based on my own experience, of course.
Fears that I wasn’t good enough. Been there, done that. Boy do I have some stories.
Fear that people wouldn’t accept me for who I really am. Been there, done that. Again…more stories than you can shake a stick at.
Fear that I would fail. Been there, done that. Nothing’s worse than setting yourself up for failure before you even get started.
Fear that I would succeed and people wouldn’t like me. Been there, done that. What I learned is that it’s okay with wanting people to like me, but at the end of the day, it’s more important to like the reflection in the mirror.
Fear that I made the wrong decision and that once I got into what it was I really wanted to do, I’d find a was to sabotage it. So I had no choice but to back out. Been there…trying not to do that.
Or, fear that I made the right decision, and that once I got into what it was I wanted to do, I’d back out because of fear of realizing success and joy.
One reality of life is this: There are so many people out here who aren’t happy…because they allow fear to hold themselves back, because they surround themselves with people who are either miserable, people who haven’t really accomplished much themselves and feel threatened by other people’s aspirations, dreams, goals, desires and passions.
*Sidebar: why the hell do people let their car alarms go off for what seems like an eternity? It’s hard to think when you can hear we-o-we-o-we-o-we-o-we over and over again.”
Anyway, as I was saying….LOL.
Fear can paralyze, cripple and cause us to just settle. What happens: We resign ourselves to “just get by” in jobs we hate, relationships we can’t stand, goals we don’t even want to achieve, even foods we eat! Why, because we get comfortable. We don’t want to rock the boat. We don’t like change.
I like to try different foods, and can’t for the life of me, understand other people who would rather eat one or two favorite foods. I have learned that this is the way things are for some people, but I wonder how much of that is fear of the unknown?
Fear can also motivate us to push ourselves beyond our perceived limits and try things that we never thought we’d be good at. When we can overcome fear when it manipulates us into thinking irrationally – When we can wrestle our fears down to the ground…even though it feels like it has taken our inner voice hostage, to the point where you’re thinking, “You’re no good. You’re a failure. You don’t deserve to….(fill in the blank) – this is a powerful thing!
Moving to the East Coast was not a spur-of-the-moment decision. When I announced that I was leaving my grant writing job and moving here, I got a lot of “why do you want to do that?” I know people meant well, but I also understood that these innocent questions weren’t so innocent. They got my head to thinking that maybe I had no right to realize my dreams.
So, I had to settle the little voices in my head telling me I wasn’t good enough, I wasn’t smart enough, I wasn’t cool enough to move here…and that I’d get here and fail and would have to return to the Midwest with my tail hanging between my legs. Well, I’ve been here for 3 1/2 years. I’m loving the woman I’ve become. I succeeded at a job that people thought I’d fail at. I proved to myself that I had what it took to do this. I could have easily given in to my fear of not knowing what I was stepping into, but I didn’t, and I’m all the better for it.
So, tell me: What “thing” or “person” caused you to chicken out back in the day? Have you overcome the fears that drove you to chicken out? Or are you still trying to conquer that fear you have?