Updated: Aug 27, 2019
I have a very special person in my life who is making decisions about her future. When she started talking about making decisions for this next phase, I realized we are rarely prepared for major life changes. For some, that leap of faith, taking the next step without knowing if there is a stair on which to land is a terrifying decision to make.
We all have an end goal that we want, but getting to that goal is a twisty, terrifying road. Some embrace those twists and savor the unknown. Others do not have that same thirst for adventure. Even further, sometimes the thirst is there, but the fear is stronger. Life is full of fear. New jobs cause anxiety because we are leaving what we know and stepping out to the unknown. Even if we disliked the job we had, at least it was "the known". We knew what to expect. We knew what would be thrown at us. We knew what was expected of us. We knew what people at that job thought of us. But with that new job, we are at the mercy of faith. We don't know expectations, social norms, colleagues, etc. Some, at this point, would let the fear of that unknown stop them from trying something new and searching for new opportunity.
Let's think, for a moment, about the first major life decision that most of us make as an adult. College. Here we are, growing up, living our lives, going to high school, hanging with our friends and then, June of our senior year hits and hello adulthood!
Time to make decisions that will change the rest of your life. For many, that means leaving a home, family and friends and venturing off to a new town, new friends, new sleeping quarters and no home cooked meals on the table or nice lady doing your laundry. I always thought of this as a right of passage and something that is exciting. I went to a 4 year college that was a commuter college, so I still lived with my parents. But for those that don't live near a university and are forced to leave home to get that education, it can be very unnerving.
It's important that we understand that fear and anxiety is normal. It's okay to be afraid. It's okay to be apprehensive about what lies ahead. It's not okay, however, to avoid the future because of the fear. Fear can have positive and negative effects on people. Sometimes, fear causes people to become hyperfocused, have heightened awareness and become motivated. For others, fear causes avoidance and halts momentum. Fear can oftentimes cause anxiety. Anxiety is okay too if we use it to our advantage. We have to choose how we allow fear and anxiety rule us.
When I feel fear's strength within me growing, I always stop and say, what's the worst thing that can happen? My fear of taking a leadership role that required consistent public speaking almost forced me to pass on a significant promotion. I decided I was not going to let that fear stop me from being successful. Am I a great public speaker? No, not yet, but I am better. And, really, what's the worst thing that can happen? I bomb at a meeting? Eh, I'll get over bombing at one and rocking the other 12. But, two years ago, I was not that confident. I took every meeting one step at a time. I prepared hours for a 20 minutes presentation. Two years later, I am comfortable having a presentation tossed at me the morning of a meeting and I can do a pretty decent job of executing. But, to get here, I had to face my fear. I had to look it in the eye and say, no, you are not controlling me. I will do this. I may fall on my face a few times, but I will do this until I do it well and I will be successful.
One thing is for certain, we can't allow fear to block our dreams. Henry David Thoreau once said, "Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them." I believe that God has placed a seed within each of us. A seed that sprouts our purpose. I believe it's the human feelings and emotions that block us from realizing the seed and growing it to its full fruition. The only way to beat this fear is to face it. We must wake up every day and take steps to face and beat those fears. We must learn to sing our song. When I die, my hope, my goal is to have sung every last note of my song...twice.