Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear. ~ George Addair
I heard this quote on a podcast over the weekend, and it resonated to such an extent I really can’t describe how it’s affected me. Other than it’s a “Yes!” moment. I feel it to the depth of my soul. I’ve said it to myself too many times to count in the past two days. It’s so true. Fear is the bridge through the fog that so many people don’t want to walk over, because they can’t tell if it connects to something on the other side, or if they’ll just fall off the edge into nothingness.
It’s time to look fear in the face – fear of the unknown, fear of the what-ifs (those f*cking what ifs! I hate them!), fear of not being good enough, fear of not being able to support myself … fear of stepping into the unknown void of the future, without knowing what’s waiting for me there.
I think this kind of fear stops so many people from making changes in their lives. I know it has for me. It’s easier to deflect, to step back from the fear instead of facing it and then walking through it. Because, what it what’s on the other side is worse? What if I end up in a more tenuous place? What if it’s horrible and I regret it? I don’t want to have more regrets.
Those damn what ifs. I’d like to ban them from my psyche. At least the negative ones that serve to keep me where I am for no good reason other than that it’s known and comfortable in the being-known.
It’s rarely the awesome “what ifs” my psyche conjures. Like: what if it’s BETTER?! What if the place that lives on the other side of fear is nothing less than glorious? What if stepping through the fear brings me to a better version of life? What if a future on my own is more exciting, satisfying, liberating, expanding than I could ever imagine? What if by stepping through the fear I can be stronger, a better role model for my kids, do more and be more present for myself and for them, be an even better version of myself than I could ever imagine?
I’ll never know unless I step up to the fear, acknowledge it, perhaps give it a hug and a pat on the back, and then walk through it. Because NOT stepping up and through fear of the unknown may be the biggest regret any of us will ever have.
I don’t want to get to the end of my life and be faced with regrets about what I didn’t do, the risks I didn’t take, the chances I may have missed because I didn’t step out of my comfort zone. I don’t want to regret not opening myself up to the universe of possibility and potential, and instead staying where it felt more comfortable and safe.
Sometimes fear is a good thing. It’s self preservation: don’t go walking alone at night. Don’t give my address to strangers. Don’t put myself in precarious or unsafe situations. The intuition that tells me where I am is not a good place to be – don’t take the shortcut through the woods, turn around and go the other way, that person is giving off bad vibes so let’s cross the street.
But the OTHER kind of fear – the fear I’ve been struggling with for a long time – is not healthy. It’s the kind of fear that keeps me from taking chances, keeps risks at a minimum, and keeps me in my comfortable environments and situations, even though they may not actually be all that comfortable or all that safe. Change is hard, and it’s risky, and the unknown is downright scary when one is looking at it from this side of the fear.
This kind of fear keeps us from reaching our potential, because it keeps us in the the “known,” which has the real capability of stunting growth and potential. So much of growth and learning comes from walking right up to the unknown, letting it be a catalyst for change by jumping off the precipice and right into it. Then there really are no limits. Fear of the unknown can keep us from our destiny, and who would ever want that?
Change in itself can be scary, except for those lucky people who seem like they’re dare devils with their own reality, always ready for the next adventure, or risk, or wild dive into the unknown. I’d like to be more of a dare devil, but it’s not something I’d ever say I’ve been. Yeah, I’ve taken chances – quitting my career, starting a small business, starting another small business. Those were all easy, though. They didn’t feel all that risky, because I had the safety net of being married and not relying solely on myself for my livelihood. If they failed, I had support to fall back on. Now it’s different: it’s just me.
And that is as terrifying as it is exhilarating.