My mother is a wise woman. Over the years, she has given me invaluable advice that guides me through life. This one, however, hits the hardest.
The last time I found myself vulnerable, I talked about losing faith and finding myself. If you haven’t read that post, you can find it here. I recently had a conversation with my mom about my faith and religious journey, and she had a lot to say, but she reminded me that my happiness was paramount. No matter what path I follow, I shouldn’t be afraid to leave whenever it stops bringing me joy.
The invisible chains
I think my mom’s advice is as beautiful as it is profound. Because we all grossly underestimate just how much fear holds us back. It’s like a pair of chains that keeps us rooted in one spot. Only, we can’t see them.
It could be as simple as not attending a concert and then regretting it when you see videos of all the fun people who attended had. But, on the other hand, it could be as deep as being stuck in a dead-end job because you fear reaching out for your passions and failing.
For me, fear has held me back a great deal. I wish more people talked about how scary life is for a young adult; maybe we would be better equipped to handle these anxieties. The reality is, there is so much fear holding us back; fear of disappointing the people we love, fear of not meeting our goals, fear of failure, fear of being hurt, fear of heartbreak, I could go on.
The world doesn’t make it easy either because you log on to social media and see everyone announcing the groundbreaking things they do. Yet, somewhere underneath the excitement is the lingering doubt that your people might never get to celebrate you like that.
For some of us, fear keeps us from making real connections. It is even worse when you try, and you get hurt, I would know.
For the past year, I have tried my best to live fearlessly. I loved recklessly and tried my best to put myself out there. What were the results?
For starters, I got hurt. Badly. I got disappointed. I faced so much rejection I started to wonder if I was as good as I thought. Now, this sounds terrible, and it is. But even though it felt terrible, I survived. And to be honest, I don’t regret living fearlessly. I do, however, regret the moments where I let fear trap me in cycles of unhappiness because I was not brave enough to imagine a happier ending for myself and seek it.
Living fearlessly can hurt, and that’s okay.
Look, living is rough. It is frightening. But that is how you know you are doing it right. As we grow older, opportunities will keep coming our way. Brilliant opportunities. Some of these might have the potential to completely transform our lives for the better, but there is no way to tell which one it’ll be. You just have to seize them. Your youth is the best time to jump in and seize the day because there is still so much time to learn and grow. And even when it hurts, the pain does not last forever.
Just don’t be afraid to change when you no longer find joy.
It can be a beautiful thing when you take the leap and seize something that brings you peace. And understandably, you may find yourself being loud about it. And when unhappiness creeps in and pain, shame can keep you from breaking free.
Worrying about how others will perceive you, how you will live after letting go, or if you will find the next thing that will bring you that much excitement and passion; it can hold you back. Don’t let it hold you back.
Fear’s ‘wingman’: Imposter syndrome
I’m currently working in an industry I don’t know much about, which scares me. I’m also rediscovering myself after losing what I thought would be a lifelong partnership; it scares me too. I’m learning, healing, and growing at the same time. On some days, I wake up with an incredible amount of doubt.
What if I lose my job? What if they realize I am a fraud? What if I never find love again? What if I’m not as memorable as I thought I was?
When your doubt meets your imposter syndrome, it’s never fun.
Failing spectacularly at something you were almost certain would be your win can damage your confidence. Mine certainly took a hit, so I understand the fear. However, it also puts me in the best position to tell you this; feel the fear, and do it anyway.
Black Sheriff was definitely on to something.
The fear reminds you that you have something to lose, not to keep you from taking the leap. And even if you fail, so what? Who never fuck up, hands in the air. No hands? Exactly. Failure is a part of life, so trust the process.
Some things in life are hard to get, and overcoming fear is one. I don’t even think we genuinely get to overcome fear; we learn to live with it. Ignoring the doubt and accomplishing great things anyway. And let me tell you this, it gets better. I say it all the time, but it is true. A month ago, I could barely breathe; I contemplated canceling my newsletter and shutting down my blog. I could not imagine writing because I couldn’t see why anyone would want to hear what I had to say. I was drowning in fear, shame, guilt- you name it. But I am better now. And no matter how it ends, you will be better too.
So, take the leap. Apply for that job, go for that conference, go on that trip, text that person, and shoot your shot. Whatever it is that you feel has the potential to make you happy, or is already making you happy, nurture it. It could end badly, true, but it could also be that experience that completely transforms your life for the better. You won’t know unless you try, so try.
Take the leap, enjoy it, and never be afraid to leave if you no longer find joy in it.