“I don’t know if I can do this.”
How many times have you said this to yourself? How many times have we all guided a friend or loved one through a situation where they have said these words?
Fear is the single most common threat to our happiness and well-being, the thing that allows self-doubt into our lives.
Years ago, I remember consulting with a former boss about a situation I found myself in professionally. I needed some sound advice from someone I trusted, and without hesitation, went to him to brainstorm ideas for a solution.
One of the things he told me during that conversation has stuck with me through the years, “people like ‘that’ tend to hang themselves.” He was right. Self-sabotage. It eventually happened. But, what happens when people with good intentions are simply in their own way?
This past week, one of my best friends reached out. Her daughter is currently touring college campuses. My first response was, “how the hell did that happen and when did we get old?” Which was quickly followed by excitement. This amazing young lady, who I held as a baby and have watched grow into an incredible young woman, often offering bribes to her mother (my friend) to come and teach me everything she knows about parenting, will soon be venturing out on her own. The next chapter.
She has narrowed her search to 3 schools. Two of the choices ticked all the boxes, while the third only ticked some of the boxes but was closer to home. As always, I was impressed by my friend’s approach to the situation, stepping back to allow her daughter to make her own decision.
Of course, I inquired what the hesitation was to the two schools. Distance from home.
She is scared.
The conversation made me question why as humans have we been so conditioned that we allow fear and worry to keep us in a place of comfort (or sometimes unhealthy situations) for fear of the unknown?
Relationships and careers seem to be the most vulnerable areas in our lives where fear can wreak havoc.
It reminded me of another friend, who spent years in a bad relationship. We all walked through some of those dark moments with her, hoping she would make the decision we all knew she needed to for herself. But, nobody can decide those things for you. You have the will to choose. You decide.
Years later, she finally left, but not before it left her empty and destroyed the very essence of who she was. Riddled with anxiety, insecurity, and fear, she was unrecognizable.
The two situations are very different. One is the fear of leaving home, venturing out on your own – something we have all gone through as we prepare ourselves for life after graduation. The other is fear of the unknown and being alone. Very different circumstances, very different people. But the driving force behind the hesitation, fear.
And, I completely understand.
Our family has gone through tremendous change this year. There were plenty of moments leading up to our move where fear was present. There have been moments since we arrived. There are moments as I am venturing out on a new career path. There are moments as we are finding our new normal as a family.
I have had to challenge myself in those moments, to remember that fear doesn’t dictate my life or my choices. If I fall flat on my face, at least I can say I tried. Something not turning out according to the plan you created isn’t failure, it is simply life taking a detour to point you in a new direction, to something better suited for you.
But, sometimes we must get out of our own way to allow that to happen. To allow that path to reveal itself.
There are moments each day, where if you allow fear to take hold, it will. It is up to you to say no to fear and yes to the life that awaits you, should you be brave enough to embrace it.
Right now, I am choosing to embrace the fact that I still have no idea what life is going to look like 6 months from now. But, each day I wake up, I am surrounded by my beautiful family in a home that is everything we need, in a life that is taking a new shape with each day that passes. I am learning to trust, more than I have ever had to do in my life. And it’s not easy. But I choose that over fear.
This week, let’s all challenge ourselves to look at fear in our own lives. Are you allowing it to guide your decisions or dictate your life?
Eat the cake. Take the trip. Buy the dress. Make the phone call. Be you. And, let’s all tell fear where it can go!!