Journal

Fight the Waves

3 June 2015

005fear

You find yourself on an empty shore. Waves are crashing and foaming, reaching for your feet. You can barely make out the contours of another life at the horizon. A happier, simpler life. A life you could be living, if you only had the courage. You hesitate, reluctant to leave the shore. Despite its emptiness, it is safe here.

Once upon a time I was invisible. No one ever placed me on the outside. I had just made a habit of staying in corners and saying no, thank you or nothing at all. That was safer. In high school, my fear grew out of control. I took detours around life, avoiding gazes, classrooms, conversations. I was fired from my first job because I was too afraid to call in sick. I took online university courses and started freelancing because I was too afraid to interact with people every day. I was trapped on the shore while real life was playing out on the other side of the ocean.

Eventually, I had to cross it. I made a habit of staying out of corners and saying yes, thank you even when my fear screamed NO, because I knew safety would not get me anywhere. I started making terrifying commitments that I could not back out of, and with every challenge, I got closer to the life I wanted to live. I pushed myself through phone calls and client meetings and network pitches, gave two lectures at my old university and taught a course for seven weeks. Steering towards what had seemed impossible, I was forcing my fears to subside.

What dreams would you be following if you only had the courage? What fears are stopping you? Once you know the shape of your waves, you can take the first step towards them. You can start saying yes when they tell you to say no. You can start making terrifying commitments and make sure there is no way out. Each wave will try to pull you back to the safety of the shore, but you can decide whether or not to let them. Eventually, the waves will subside. Eventually, they will guide you to the other side.

Do not let your fear separate you from the life you could be living. Instead, let it show you where to go next. Cross the ocean, one small challenge at a time.

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