Fear can be paralyzing.
Fear of the unknown. Fear of not having control over the future. Fear that things will not be perfect. Fear that robs us of enjoying the present.
Fear is fed by uncertainty. Together, they form a deadly duo that can rob you of an interesting life.
I am struggling with all kinds of uncertainty right now, more than any other time in my life. My career is uncertain. My finances are uncertain. My health, though improving, is uncertain.
I am writing this because I want to feel better about my uncertainty. A good look at the roles that fear and uncertainty have played in my life may ease my mind.
I’ve struggled with fear my whole life. I grew up in a smallish town in the Midwest where I knew the streets like the back of my hand. Where neighbors rarely changed. At a time when most moms were waiting dutifully for you when you got home from school. Where there were fewer than 6 degrees of separation between you and everyone else.
It was like a comfy blanket, where everything felt familiar, and safe. Where everything was reassuring. Predictable. Not at all uncertain.
But I knew there was more to life.
The first time I thought about traveling alone to a big city, like Chicago or L.A., I thought my mom would have a cow. The world is a scary place, she said. I would be at risk of mugging, robbery, or worse, she said. Those are no places for a woman to travel alone, she said.
My dad much was more adventurous when it came to life, but still, he was a creature of habit. Lover of all things routine. He was a cop, so he had a great reverence for duty and order, and a healthy dose of skepticism about people. He worked in the same job field his whole life. Change brought about uncertainty, so no change for him.
Observing my parents’ comfortable, foreseeable lives may have sparked the teenage rebelliousness that made me want to break out even more. The excitement of proving them wrong.
Fear wasn’t going to hold me back from living my life. No way.
Overcoming this fear that I inherited from my parents, in fact, may have been the impetus for all of the chances I’ve taken in life. Chances that may not have always worked out the way I thought, but chances that nonetheless made my life the rich tapestry of people, places and experiences it has become.
The good news is that I did travel to those places, and places far more risky in my mom’s eyes, like New York City. Several times. And often alone. And I haven’t been mugged, robbed, or worse. Yet.
The bad news is that uncertainty never goes away (see “yet” in the previous paragraph). Things can happen. Things do happen. We just never know.
Which is where uncertainty feeds into the fear that is holding us back from living our dreams, following our passions, and sometimes, for some people, making even the tiniest decisions in life.
Once upon a time, I was determined to not let fear and uncertainty quash my dreams.
Once upon a time, I was so self-assured and believed that I could handle whatever the world threw my way, and land on my feet.
Once upon a time, I was a badass.
It was during this time that I got a tattoo on my foot with the name of my favorite poem, which encourages me to remember that the universe is unfolding exactly as it should.
Desiderata. Desired things. Desire is the mediating factor in life. It levels the playing field between fear and uncertainty.
Unrestrained desire to do things in life. To believe in yourself. To know that you will make it through, one way or another.
So, in addition to finding my someday, I am also on a quest to reclaim my inner badass.
I will succeed.
I will land on my feet, just like I have before.