Yesterday I was having coffee with a friend who was talking about her frustration with her job. She's felt stuck in it for a long time, but too scared to leave because she doesn't know what she'd do next.
Except that for years she keeps mentioning body-work. She studies it, takes classes, and her eyes light up whenever she talks about it. Every once in a while she talks wistfully about wishing she could do that for a career. If she had the time. If she had the support of her husband. If she had the money.
"I know what you're doing," I said.
"What," she bristled.
"You're scared. And you want it."
What followed - predictably (because we all do it, every one of us) - was that I just didn't understand the magnitude of why she couldn't, what she was dealing with, her shortcomings, and what was in the way.
And well, that's certainly true. I'm not even going to argue. I don't understand every part of her very real pain and struggle, and I don't minimize that at all.
But it's a very old script, isn't it? One we all have. Voices from the past. Painful lessons we learned, and then applied to our lives. Trying to be safe. There it always is: the past rising up once again. Like a zombie.
Except: the past is dead. It's not a monster. It's nothing more than a tired, wrinkled, re-folded a thousand times, raggedy, old, road map that someone else probably handed to you. But it doesn't work anymore. And you know what else? It doesn't even fucking go anywhere you're interested in going now.
You can get a new one.
Or make a goddamn new one.
What my friend is dealing with is nothing more than fear. Good old-fashioned, ordinary, run of the mill: F-E-A-R.
And the problem is this: she thinks she shouldn't feel afraid. She thinks people who take risks in life don't feel afraid.
Here's my Monday morning headline for you:
No one is unafraid.
The people who don't do what they want, AND the people who do what they want - who go out on a limb, who dare, who build their lives around going for what they want... guess what? They're just like you:
They feel afraid too.
So right there, you're just like everyone else. So you get afraid. Big whoop.
The only difference between the two groups is that the first one gets scared of being scared. Whereas the second group cozies right the hell up to their fear, like a way of life. (*And all that takes is practice.)
The daring group understands that being scared is not a sign to GO AWAY from the thing scaring them (the job, the relationship, the creative dream, the new hobby). No. They understand the Magic of Fear. That their fear LOVES them. In fact, it's a big old flashing neon sign pointing straight to the very thing they want most!
Nobody gets scared of shit they DON'T want. (I'm not talking snakes and spiders and getting run over by a truck - stuff you're supposed to be afraid of.)
I mean like this: I'm not scared of taking tennis lessons - the very idea makes me want to fall down dead. But talk to me about swing dance lessons? Or reading from my book draft before an audience? That makes me want to puke all over my shoes.
People get scared about what they DO want.
Think about it: you're scared-cited!
And all I want to know from YOU is this: What are you afraid to quit? What are you afraid to go for? What idea, dream, or opportunity excites, thrills, and scares the pants off you?
Got something? Good. GO GET IT.
My prayer for you is this: I hope you're never NOT scared.
-Big love, Allyson
*You can start with something small. More on this in a future post.