Fear. It’s a small word, but a powerful one. It has the ability to make or break your dreams, paralyze you or propel you forward. It’s something that no one is exempt from; every person in this world experiences fear, whether they admit it or not. For young professionals, it is a feeling that is very likely experienced more than other times in life, because it’s a time when you’re truly figuring out who you are and where you want to be. You’re working hard on your career, dating different people and, in general, setting the tone for where you want to go. Life at this stage is filled with so much choice.
It is during these moments of choice and figuring out the directions we want to take that we can sometimes end up becoming paralyzed by fear. Whether it’s a job that you’d love to be in but are too scared to go for, or someone you’ve known for awhile that you’re dying to ask out on a date, or just dealing with change in general, sometimes we hold ourselves back. However, what I have found is that in the long run, doing the things that scare you, while they can be terrifying, can also turn out to be some of the most rewarding experiences you could ask for.
There are a couple of thought processes you can go through when contemplating something scary that may help to make the process a little less daunting. The first is in realizing that the fear is something that is mainly built up in your mind. While the worst case scenario is certainly a possibility, the reality of it is likely to be less severe than what your mind is building it up to be. Take a second and think of the realistic possibilities from a calm perspective. Acknowledging your fears is normal, but try to remember that the fear is something you’re creating for yourself; the actual scenario can very well turn out to be completely different.
In order to squash your fears and take that step forward to the scenario you’re contemplating, you must be able to believe in yourself. When facing scary situations, it is very easy to begin doubting ourselves. For some reason, we tend to forget about the times we’ve succeeded or risen to the challenge. Don’t forget these things about yourself! Carry your confidence with you everywhere. It doesn’t matter if this experience is something you’ve never done before; if you had the confidence to press forward in new situations in the past, then you can certainly do it today.
Another tendency we have is to get too caught up in the details and the “what-ifs.” It is common for people to start thinking too far ahead and imaging all sorts of scenarios before they’ve even taken the first step. While it’s important to think carefully about your decisions, you don’t want to overdo it so much that you start envisioning a totally unrealistic picture that hasn’t even happened yet. If you’ve been contemplating something scary but haven’t been able to yet take the leap, then it is probably very likely that you’re craving change in some sort of way. For a moment, forget about the “what-ifs” that haven’t happened and just entertain the idea of change, period. Change is good for you, because even if you don’t end up in your best case scenario, maybe you end up on a different path that tends to be better for you after all. You won’t know if you don’t try, and it will be more satisfying in the long run to look back and know that you listened to that feeling that pushed you towards change.
Remember that no matter what happens, the outcome is not really what counts the most. That’s like saying: it’s the destination and not the journey that matters. When you look back, you’ll remember the journey and the chances you took along the way more than the actual end result. No matter what the outcome, you can revel in the fact that you tried, you put yourself out there, and you went for it. That’s what counts the most. Because while it may not work every time, learning to do it will prepare you for the times that it WILL work.
The next time you’re contemplating something scary, try to take the chance. It may not turn out exactly as you’d hoped, but in may provide moments of clarity and self-awareness that you needed to see anyway. On the other hand, taking that chance could give you exactly what you wanted all along. In the end, there is no downside in facing your fears and taking a chance. The only downside lies in not believing in the best for yourself. Believe in the best, walk confidently forward, and you’ll always end up where you need to be.