Fear so often stops me in my tracks when I have a gut instinct to do something that sounds potentially awesome but unconventional. Fear of rejection. Fear of failure. Fear of being judged by others. Fear that it’s the wrong thing to be doing.
How often do we come up with an idea, and talk ourselves out of it? Maybe we share about it with a friend and then list all of the reasons why it can’t possibly happen right now?
Maybe it’s just me that does that.
I have loads of ideas that I’ve never had the courage to pursue. Some of it is the fear of having to become self-employed and do those tax forms (maths terrifies me, especially when making a mistake might mean that I accidentally break the law). Some of it is fear that no one would ever take me seriously. Some of it is fear that no one would get behind the idea and it would simply fail.
There are a few key times that I’ve managed to face my fears.
1. Ditching my Geography degree – I got on well with the majority of the tutors, had a great group of friends in my class who I was looking forward to graduating with that I studied with, lunched with, went to the pub with. I was not welcomed by the smaller all-female class when I switched over to the medical school to study a degree in Public Health. I was far more suited to my new degree, but it did come at a price. I loved learning Health Sciences, still smile when I see my Honours Project dissertation. But there is sometimes a little bit of me that wonders if I should be a Geography teacher still!
2. Going to Australia – Travelling to the other side of the world alone, and digging into my lifelong savings to do it. Yep. I had to be pushed into the travel agent by one of my friends because doing something so spontaneous like moving home and flying to Australia with only 3 weeks to plan and accomplish that task is not generally part of my personality. Then I ran up the aisle of the plane screaming when a young girl got travel sick on my way back to the UK.
which brings me to…
3. Going to South Africa – suffice to say that after the return journey from Australia, I vowed to never get on a plane again. My worst fear had been realised, and the idea of getting on another 6 planes to get to Durban and back terrified me (ie six opportunities to be stuck in a metal container where someone might get sick). Not to mention my hours had been reduced since getting a promotion at work…so that meant less pay. Where to find a spare £2000?
4. Turning down a job – In 2007, I was up for two jobs. The first was a perfectly reasonable job but not something I particularly wanted to do. The other was a job I really felt a calling to, however I got the impression that the employers felt I was too young for it. The week I had an interview for the latter job, I got a call from the first one offering me a position. I turned it down. I had been looking for a job for three months, and my Mum thought I was nuts. But I really believed that I was meant to be doing the second job. Thankfully it all worked out and I did get the second job in the end. Phew. However, since then I’ve wondered if I made the right decision.
5. Going to Winter School – Two weeks off work (precious annual leave), missing one of my university classes, extra work in the two months before I went, living with strangers, fear of being seen as stupid and lacking in knowledge, not to mention having to get on a plane again. Yep, suffice to say I was not sure about signing up for Winter School! Had I not done that I wouldn’t have made a great friend, not to mention met all the awesome folks who were also there. Yes, it was exhausting, and I came home to find that disaster had struck at work while I was at university in Germany, but I am so glad that I got that learning experience and the friendships that came with it.
So I can only conclude that Don Miller is correct. If I’d listened to fear I would have missed out on a great deal of experiences that have made my life experience richer and more exciting. And I think I need to stop listening to my fears as much as I do…because it tricks me out of doing things that will bring me joy.