Courageous or Comfortable? : Learning to Face Your Fears

All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them. –Walt Disney

woman sitting on mountain
Photo by Lukas Hartmann on Pexels.com

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—

Kaitlyn Rose

DREAM. PURSUE. EXPERIENCE. GROW.

This blog will cover travel, personal growth, and life in general.

 

 

Remembering How to Dream

You have to dream before your dreams can come true.—A. P. J. Abdul Kalam

IMG_5125

This may seem silly to say, but in order to pursue your dreams, you must have dreams to pursue. Many people do not know what their dreams are…or if you were like me, maybe you have forgotten how to dream at all. We must remember how to dream so that we can start on this adventure of living the life of your dreams. Some people may scoff or laugh at this concept of “remembering how to dream” but I know it was a reality in my life and I’m sure in many others as well.

For the longest time, I refused to allow myself to dream anything except for some simple and normal things: to graduate from college, to get married, be a mom, to serve God however He wanted me to. These things are not unimportant (some being very important and real dreams), but they are also what we were kind of taught to dream. It’s what we see people do, it’s what we hear about. I never dreamed anything outside of those and if I ever felt dreams tickle my mind or felt my heart whisper—I did not listen. I was forcing myself to forget my dreams because of fear…because of “practicality thinking” (a term I have decided to deem those thoughts as). Why would I not allow myself to dream?

One big reason was because I did not believe I could do any of those things that did try to make its way out. Like my last post, that was because of some self-hate and lack of self-confidence. Learning to love yourself will help you remember to dream again. As Walt Disney said, “If you can dream it, you can do it.” Another major reason was because I truly believed that if I voiced or acknowledged any of my dreams that God would take them away. I knew God wanted Himself to be number one in our lives and often require us to surrender ourselves, our worries, and our dreams to Him. I was silly enough to think that if I did not dream, maybe I would trick God and it would happen anyways, or that the disappointment of having an unrealized dream would be less painful if I never dreamed it.

How sorely wrong I was…

Instead I found myself hurting because I was not realizing ANY dreams and felt like I did not have any idea what to do with my life (not that dreaming would help me know which direction to go). Also, there is a verse in the Bible that says “Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life will preserve it” (Luke 17:33). I believe a similar result will come to those who try to keep their dreams. I was being selfish and trying to keep my dreams by not dreaming at all, but instead of keeping them, I was losing them. God is not so cruel as to take away everything we dream. But He does want to make sure we are in the right place with the right heart attitude as we pursue those dreams. I believe God placed dreams in our heart and wishes to give us those dreams as long as He is put first. “Delight in the Lord and He shall give you the desires of your heart” (Ps. 37:4). That does not mean we seek Him because we want those desires, but rather to see this as a promise that as long as we are seeking God and following Him, He WILL give us those desires.

Other reasons for me not dreaming were from my “practicality thinking.” I often would think things like, “Well, if I do this then I can’t do that” or “No one would like this or care about this” or “My parents won’t let me do this” or “People will laugh at me if I do this.” These are what I call “practicality thinking.” They are fears that may or may not be irrational; fears we believe, fears we succumb to, fears we use as excuses, fears we let drive our lives. This fear will be with us wherever we go, no matter how much we have grown or changed. They will never leave us.

“Practicality thinking” keeps us safe, tries to protect us, and is not entirely evil. However, while it may not be all bad, it is not all good either. Some fears are irrational. Most fears will not end your life. And all will keep you inside your box of comfort never allowing you to leave unless you go against the voice telling you “Stooop!” Yes, this voice may be right sometimes. Yes, maybe those fears might become a reality. But this voice will also prevent you from chasing your dreams and keep you from growing.  I will go more into this fear in my next post.

Returning to this idea of remembering how to dream, we must not allow any of these fears, doubts, or struggles to prevent us from dreaming.

A year ago, I remembered how to dream. It was awkward (and still is occasionally), but it has brought me back to life and placed more hope in me than I had had in a long time. How did I remember how to dream?

First, I had to realize that I was loved and learn to love myself (if you struggle with this refer to my last post, “You Are Capable”). After that, I had to realize it was okay to dream those dreams that scare you. Remember “if you can dream it, you can do it”? Well, do not doubt in your capabilities. It may take some time to gain confidence in your ability to achieve your dreams, but you must disregard the fear of failure and allow yourself to dream. It will feel uncomfortable and it may feel like there is a war going on inside you, but you must push those aside and allow yourself to dream about what could be. What are some desires, interests, wishes you have that maybe you never thought you could do or have? Write them down, no matter how crazy they can be. If the voice of your “practicality thinking” is too loud, you can write down those thoughts and fears leaving blank space between each of them and then go back to fill in the blank space with why you are afraid of this, what is the worst that can happen if the fear came true, and how you can overcome it if it did happen. Finally, write a positive affirmation/statement contradicting the original fear you wrote down describing why you CAN do it. This is an exercise I took from The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron and Artist of Life 2018 Workbook by Aileen Xu of Lavendaire.

Unhinge yourself from those thoughts, fears, and lies so that you can truly be free to dream those crazy, bizarre, ridiculous dreams. Write down even the small dreams up to the very big ones. Just go crazy. Remember that you are relearning how to dream, so you must not throw away even the silly desires that pop up. Don’t judge. Just write down any dreams that come to you. If you still are struggling with where to start, here are some prompts to think about to help you get started:
Where would you like your health to be?

What are some small interests and hobbies you wish you could do?

What are somethings you want to learn?

What kind of home, clothes, and life do you want to have?

Where would you like to live?

How do you want to feel about yourself?

What do you want to do?

Just write down anything that comes to mind while thinking about these questions. Do not be critical. Do not be negative. Do not allow your “practicality thinking” and fears to plug up your ability to dream wildly and freely.

After you have written them all down, either mark with a star or make a separate list of the most important dreams—the ones that mean the most to you or you want the most—and then make a daily or monthly plan on how you will achieve your dream. I did this same exercise a year ago. Seriously. I wrote down all those crazy dreams even though I thought it was silly. I knew I needed to relearn how to dream. Then I selected the dreams that were most important to me or wanted the most. I wrote down steps to achieving those dreams in very small simple steps. I looked at the first step, the easiest step, and then I started working towards those dreams a little every day. Of course, I was not perfect. I missed days, weeks, and months out of laziness and procrastination, but instead of beating myself up I just told myself to try again and take the next step.

I will use an example of one of my dreams:

Dream: Live in Asia

How: Teaching English

I had absolutely NO idea how to do this and it seemed so impossible at the time, but I remembered I had to start somewhere. So as step one, I looked up requirements and ‘how to’s on Google. Yeah. I looked up “How to move to Asia” on Google and I found some helpful tips. I looked on my university’s job portal for any English teaching jobs in Asia and saved them. I looked at requirements. I looked at any job offerings that interested me. I talked to a friend who had just come back from teaching South Korea about her experience. I found a recruiting company that recruits English teachers in South Korea, I read reviews on them, looked at their job postings, their steps, their applications, and saved it for another day. Then I began collecting a few small items I would need to apply to the recruiting company, knowing that having a recruiter to help me along the way would make it more likely that I would go.

A few months went by where I thought, debated, prayed, and wrestled with whether or not I would apply. February this year, I decided to just take the first step and apply because I knew I would be disappointed in myself if I didn’t. So, I applied. I was interviewed two days later and was accepted. Several panicked, stressful, terrifying steps later (and after a lot of checking and researching that this was not a scam), I find myself here in the final steps of attaining my visa and planning to leave August 19th.

I have used this as an example many times because a year ago this was on the list of dreams that I said “Psh…This will never happen. I’m too scared to do it, I do not even know where to start, I probably won’t do this.” I’d like to tell myself a year ago, “Kaitlyn, you CAN do it. Just don’t give up!” I won’t say it was a breezy, happy, non-stressful experience to get me to where I am now, but I do not regret this. It’s forcing me out of my comfort zone towards something I always wished I was brave enough to do.

AND…it all started with writing down all those bizarre, crazy dreams.

So, I’m here to tell you to dream big dreams! Allow yourself to dream. Allow yourself to believe in yourself. Allow yourself to love yourself. Allow yourself to push aside those fears and “practicality thinking” so that you can dream those wild dreams.

It’s time we remember how to dream. Dream—so that you can have dreams to pursue.

—The Adversity Rose—

Kaitlyn Rose

DREAM. PURSUE. EXPERIENCE. GROW.

This blog will cover travel, personal growth, and life in general.

You Are Capable

If you can dream it, you can do it. –Walt Disney

stack of love wooden blocks
Photo by Ylanite Koppens on Pexels.com

You are capable. You are capable of doing all those sweet dreams deep in your heart. Maybe you do not believe it now, but I hope you will one day. Today, I want to talk about loving yourself and self-confidence. I mentioned this for a brief moment in the last post, but I want to expound on it more since it is so vital to our journey of change. In order to chase dreams, you need to know that you are capable and you have an amazing purpose in life. Not everyone may believe in God, but I do—and I believe that when He created us, He created us with a purpose and placed dreams inside our hearts. I believe they are there because we are capable of doing them—with His help of course. However, we do not need to worry about His helping us. We need to focus on taking steps and persevering and going hard after those dreams. Only then will God meet us half-way and you will see impossibilities become possible and a supernatural favor.

So, I reiterate. You are capable of changing and fully capable in achieving your dreams.

When I was thirteen years old, I went to Thailand on a mission’s trip with my mom. I truly believe it was in that moment when the dreamer inside of me awoke. However, even though I began to feel those secret desires begin to manifest, I did not believe I was capable of achieving them. I was super shy when I was a kid. I could not talk to strangers, and I could barely talk to people I knew. I wanted to help people, wanted to move to Asia even if temporary, and wanted to do so much, but if I thought about actually doing them…It scared me out of my mind. I remember praying every day for years for an inner boldness because my greatest fear was that I would be too afraid to chase my dreams.

I did not believe I was capable. Even with God’s help I was afraid I was not capable.

Around the same time I began having those secret dreams that I never voiced to anyone except for maybe my mom (until much, much later), I also began to fall into self-hatred. I hated myself for being too shy to talk to others, I hated myself for being too shy to do something I wanted to do, I hated myself for not going after my dreams (because I was so sure I never would), and I hated that everyone else knew I was shy too.

Constantly, I was told that I was quiet and shy, and constantly I felt people trying to pull me out and tell me to be bold and speak up. And I tried. I really did. But it was disheartening when I did make the effort to say something, I only heard the same things I heard before. They seemed to not see that it just took everything in me to say that sentence or two.

It is pretty funny to think about it now. Honestly, saying a sentence or two in a group setting was a lot of talking for me. Of course, they would still see me as quiet and shy! I just did not realize at the time. It caused a lot of discouragement and dislike for myself. (Disclaimer: I do not want this to sound like people from my past caused this, because I know they saw some things in me that I did not. They were trying to draw it out. And it is likely they did not know the effort that went into saying what I did say or they did and were trying to draw out more.) Anyways, this timidity and discouragement and self-hatred continued with little change until a little more than a year ago.

Yes, I did keep trying to push myself. Yes, I did not give up. Yes, I kept trying to step out of my comfort zone. And yes, I did get bolder. I knew this, but my self-hatred only grew rather than lessen. I was not even aware that I hated myself. I see it so clearly now, but back then all I thought about was working hard to step out. And focusing on the jealousy that was taking hold of me.

I know jealousy really began to be a problem for me in high school. I was jealous of anyone who was bolder than me and was entrusted with what I considered to be positions of boldness. I knew they would do great things. Everyone told them so. I told them so—and I believed it. However, I was jealous of them because I felt like I could never be like them (which is true, I can only be me) and I hated myself for being jealous of my friends. I believed I would continue to be behind everyone else and never become the person I wanted to be. When I slept, my dreams would be full of action-packed adventure where I was helping others and was bold and fearless. It was (and is still) who I wanted to be with every fiber of my being. I was never the damsel in distress in those dreams (though, I do love the idea of some knight in shining armor saving the princess—I think there are times we cannot do everything on our own and more frequently than we think).

My jealousy pinnacled in college (at least so far—definitely have not fully defeated the jealousy beast). Junior year of college was the hardest year I’ve experienced because of several things, but I’d say 40% of the reason was because of jealousy and self-hate. I mention them both because I believe the two are tied together. I am only jealous because I do not see my own worth and do not love myself. I came to that realization I think in April 2017 when a friend told me that I have worth and that I was not a bad person for being jealous of my best friends. Man, did I need to hear that. Those words healed my hurting heart and if I had not heard them in that moment when my heart was crumbling, I do not know where I would be today. She was a literal God send, and I knew it.

After that day, my heart was more open for healing and love than it was before. My friend basically told me that I need to learn to love myself and accept the love of my Heavenly Father in order for the jealousy to go away. I was amazed how much love and acceptance I felt in the next three months from God and from others. I went to Japan from May 2017 to June 2017, and by the time I returned from the trip my heart felt more happy and whole than it had in a long time. I realize now the importance of loving yourself, believing in yourself, and moving from a place of love.

I do not know if this speaks to any of you, I hope some part of it has, but I want to encourage you that you ARE loved, you ARE capable, you HAVE worth. You can chase those dreams in your heart. I shared this only because I remember and still occasionally deal with the hurt and pain of self-hate. It sucks the life out of you. It consumes you. It stunts you. It haunts you. You make decisions out of that fear and hate. You do not see your own potential. But God does and so do I. Maybe I do not see YOU, but I know you are capable because I know I am capable too.

How can you begin to love yourself?

First, you must FORGIVE yourself for all your failures, mistakes, and wrongdoings. You must forgive the people who did not see your worth. You must forgive yourself from the future you thought you were going to live. Forgiveness is so important to living life without bitterness. We cannot let unforgiveness fester inside of us because it only makes us depressed, angry, and bitter.

Second, you must be merciful and gracious to yourself when you feel like you have failed again. No one is perfect, not even you, so do not expect yourself or others to be so. Change takes time and consistency.

Third, you must accept yourself where you are at right now. Not where you are going to be, not where you want to be, but where you are right now. You must love yourself for who you are today. God loves YOU. Not only the person you will become, but the person you are today and He believes in you.

Fourth, realize you are fully capable of growing and changing. Some exercises that can help is to write out some words you want to believe about yourself and then speaking them out loud every morning. You can stand in front of a mirror and speak them to yourself as well. Also taking time to write a phrase you want to believe about yourself over and over again. Example:

I believe I am fully capable of achieving my dreams.

I believe I am fully capable of achieving my dreams.

I believe I am fully capable of achieving my dreams.

I believe I am fully capable of achieving my dreams.

I believe I am fully capable of achieving my dreams.

When you have created negative pathways in your brain of self-hate over and over, we need to purposely work to change those pathways and it’s not always easy. But remember to have grace and mercy for yourself when you feel like you’ve failed.

Speaking out verses from the Bible have always helped me. I’ll attach a recording of spoken word (gathered from Bible verses and sermons) at the bottom of this post that a friend of mine created a few years ago which has been great encouragement to me and have been speaking over myself ever since. Even if you do not want to speak verses over yourself, I encourage you to listen to this recording at least once to see if there is anything you might want to add to the confession that you write for yourself.

To help with forgiveness, you can try to write a letter to yourself or to the person you wish to forgive and share why they hurt you and then tell them why you will forgive them but never send it to them (unless it is you—HAHA). This may be difficult and may not work for everyone, but it is worth a try.

To summarize:

  1. Forgive yourself and others.
  2. Have grace and mercy for yourself when you feel you fail.
  3. Accept who you are right now.
  4. Know you are fully capable of growing and changing.

Focus on the things that you succeeded in and the challenges you have overcome to remind yourself that you are not a failure. Failure only happens when someone has decided to give up. Do not give up on yourself. You are capable and remember, if you can dream it, you can do it.

—The Adversity Rose—

Kaitlyn Rose

P.S. here is the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KyAftxWpJQ4

DREAM. PURSUE. EXPERIENCE. GROW.

This blog will cover travel, personal growth, and life in general.