All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them. –Walt Disney
If I could think of one thing that keeps me from chasing my dreams and the plan God has for me, it would be fear. Fear keeps me comfortable, complacent, and safe, but also keeps me from changing. I do not know about you, but I do not want to remain the same person I am today. I want to continue to grow, mature, and develop. If I never change, then how can I change my circumstances? Although fear is not necessarily something to disregard and never listen to, it is something that can hold you back.
In the last post, I briefly mentioned my term “practicality thinking.” Practicality thinking, as stated before, keeps us safe, tries to protect us, and is not entirely evil. Sometimes that fear can keep us alive and well. But we cannot let that fear have control over our decisions. In “Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert, she mentions how we should not try to rid ourselves of our fears. Instead, we should acknowledge that those fears are there and give them permission to be in the car with you while letting them know they are not going to be making any decisions and are not allowed to touch the driver’s wheel. I thought this was an interesting idea since I had always thought that it was better if I could rid myself of those fears that hold me back completely. But now I believe those fears are there to help us become stronger the more we overcome those fears. That’s why it is called “overcoming fears.”
I think this can help us to see fears as something that will always be a part of our lives but we have the choice of not listening to them. In order to chase the dreams in our hearts, we will have to overcome a lot of our fears.
As a shy girl, I had many fears. Fears that still try to take control of my life today. Many times, I have allowed those fears to define my life and only a few times gained enough courage to tell my fears “no, I will do it anyway.” It came to the point two years ago where I began to believe I would not be able to do anything I wanted to do. I saw myself as a turtle who would curl up in its shell for protection whenever I saw something that made me afraid. And after being tired of facing fears and failing to face fears, I was tempted to curl in my shell forever and give up. I was ready to give up on being me and just allow myself to coast through life. I wanted to give up on my dreams and just live a comfortable life where I do not have to do things that stretched me any longer. When I thought about what my future would look like through that lens, life seemed grey and pointless. I knew I had to fight something if I didn’t want that life I pictured to come into fruition.
Last year, I dared myself to dream again despite my fears of dreaming. This year, I’ve decided to face some fears that stand in the way of my dreams. Here are some fears that I believed and allowed to control my life:
What if I never do what I want to do? What if I never become the person I want to become?
What if I say something stupid and embarrass myself?
What if I can’t do it? What if I fail?
What if they don’t like me? What if they think I am weird?
What if they are not really my friends and they leave me?
What if bad things happen if I do that?
What if I don’t like it and can’t back out?
What if this person decides they don’t like me anymore?
If I get into this relationship, what if they start liking someone better than me and leave me?
What if I chose to get into this relationship and it doesn’t work out so we break-up?
What if I’m hurt by this decision or this person?
What if I’m not good enough?
What if I’m not perfect?
These are a few examples of fears I had and still have that I have allowed to define my life. Some of them came from past experiences of hurt and pain, whereas others are fears that seem to come out of nowhere. We must not allow those fears to guide our lives, but we can use them to be more cautious in our choices. After we have thought over, prayed, wrestled with a decision, we can decide whether or not it is worth the risk.
For example, two years ago I was debating whether or not to go on a mission’s trip with my university. I was afraid of committing in case I did not raise the money in time to go and would have to publicly step down. I did not believe I would be able to raise all the money. However, it occurred to me that if I did not try, I would always wonder what would have happened if I had tried.
I had this same mindset when I decided to apply for teaching English in South Korea. I was terrified out of my mind into committing to the idea for so many reasons, but I knew I would forever regret and wonder if I did not try. If I did not show myself it was possible for me to have the courage to do this, then how could I believe in myself for future endeavors? If I disappointed myself in one area, I will discourage myself from trying in other areas as well.
We must cling to some courage to face our fears as if our life depended on it, because if you want growth and change in your life you will have to take some risks. “You can be comfortable or courageous, but you cannot be both” (Brene Brown).
You cannot change inside your comfort zone, and you cannot chase your dreams either. So, if you are up to change and chasing dreams, you must be ready to say goodbye to your comfort zone.
Since facing fears has not been an easy task for me, I had to approach it differently than I normally would. I would first identify what were some fears that kept me from doing things I wanted to do. Then, I decided how much I wanted the dream to come true and whether or not I would be disappointed in myself for not doing it. I then allowed myself to think about how I felt in the past when I did not do something I wanted to do because of fear and imagined how I would feel if I allowed fear to win again. Would I regret not facing this fear later? Would I wonder what would have happened if I had done it? If I knew that I would have any regret in choosing comfort over my dreams, I would force myself to do it and tell myself to just try. I would remind myself that no matter what the outcome, at least I did not allow fear to decide and did not allow myself to regret choosing comfort. This way, I am seeing these opportunities less as whether I would fail or not, but rather as opportunities of growth from doing something I was scared to do. Also, so that I could be proud that I faced my fears even if the opportunity did not go well and I would know that I tried.
This has helped me in making decisions for chasing my dreams, and I haven’t regretted those decisions so far. I know this is only one step towards realizing my dreams, but at least it prevents me from staying complacent and fear-driven. I hope this give you another perspective on how to overcome some fears you have. You only have to start with one at a time. The more you conquer, the more confident you will be in taking the next steps towards your dream. Start small if you have to.
So which will you choose? Courageously pursuing your dream or comfortably complacent with the life you live now?
Here is a small list of things that scared me that I did this year (some small, some big):
Got into my first relationship
Applied for an English Teacher Recruiting Company
Interviewed for a job
Signed a contract for teaching English for a year in South Korea
Prayed in a group setting
Started a blog and shared it with friends and family
Good luck on facing your fears!
—The Adversity Rose—
DREAM. PURSUE. EXPERIENCE. GROW.
This blog will cover travel, personal growth, and life in general.