When’s the last time you had this feeling?
”I really, really want to do something different – I just CAN’T stay here … but it’s SAFER to stay where I am. At least I have [fill in your blank] and if I DO [fill in your thing], I just don’t know if it will work out. It may be a disaster. Oh well, pffft… it’s better to stay.”
And away and out of your reach, disappears that thing you’re longing for. I’ve done it too.
Last night, for whatever reason, I remembered a time I took action despite a massive fear.
19 years ago, I was working in a job I couldn’t stand anymore. I’d been in the SA Army Military Band for 5 years, playing the clarinet. Strange job for a woman, yes. We were only 4 girls in the band. After 5 years of parade grounds (shine or rain), playing and marching, it seemed, always immediately after the horses at outdoors shows, hurry-up-and-wait and nothing inspiring beckoning from the future, every day felt like a struggle. I just didn’t know what to do to change things.
I can remember looking for different work for months – scouring the Sunday paper every week, and feeling hopeless and helpless to find something that would not require me to do another 3 or 4 year degree. I had a music degree and there were not many options for me, with that particular education. I decided I had to get out of the music industry – but how?
Swallowing my words
Finally, I discovered a 4 month full-time programming course through my brother. I resigned from my stable (and uninspiring) job. I chose to have two savings policies pay out so that I had just enough money to live off for those 4 months.
I had absolutely no idea whether I’d find a job afterwards. All I had was trust and faith and my brain. I had burnt my bridges. I could never go back to the safe Army Band. I said to myself “No matter how hard it might be, I am GOING to make this work. There’s no turning back.”
It was scary as hell.
I slept on beds of nails for those 4 months!
I’d never even had a computer, nor typed 3 letters on a keyboard of any kind. When they brought in computers at my school towards the end of my Matric year, I stupidly thought “FAD!” and chose not to get involved.
And there I was, swallowing my words at the age of 32. I had to learn to employ logic, learn a programming language and hundreds of TLA’s, plus type on a foreign thing called a keyboard.
We called it ‘Eagle mode’ – when you have to look for a letter for a few seconds, then ‘swoop’ down to type that one letter. Painfully slow and humbling.
It was like being in hell in some ways. I slept very little those 4 months. I often asked myself “What was I THINKING when I decided to do this?” I just HAD to make it. I was committed.
The awesome part comes next. I was employed as a junior computer programmer straight away. The relief and gratitude was more enormous than words can ever say. It paid far more than the Army Band job I’d resigned from and I had so many more opportunities in front of me.
And yes – I paid a price. It wasn’t a free ticket to heaven.
My savings were gone, I was in serious sleep-debt, my nerves were frayed some days, and my relationship at the time took a bad knock due to so many hours away from home while studying to create a better future.
Yesterday I realised that so much of the life that I love and enjoy now, wouldn’t have been able to happen if I didn’t LEAP, despite my huge fears.
If I let my fear stop me, I wouldn’t have met Andrew (my magnificent husband) I met him because I was working in the computer programming industry. In fact, we discovered we were working right across the road from each other.
Because of meeting and marrying him, I had the freedom to resign from THAT computer programming job where I was no longer happy. I longed to work with people and support them through struggles. I went on courses to learn healing techniques like EFT, Quantum-Touch and Reiki, first of all to help myself – then it turned into a business. If it wasn’t for that original leap, I wouldn’t have had the privilege to get to know so many inspiring, courageous and beautiful clients. I wouldn’t have been able to live my dream of LOVING what I do every single day.
Many people in the Army Band ended up staying for 15 or 20 years with very few inspiring days. That could’ve been me and I am so grateful it’s not. I think I would’ve slowly shriveled into a smaller and smaller version of what I could be… The same old, same old, week in and week out.
I’m not bashing it – it was a life-saver when I found that job! I learned a lot about life there. Made big mistakes there, and grew up very quickly when I did Basic Military Training for 9 weeks. Yet – I discovered very different horizons and possibilities when I took a leap away from it.
Is there a leap you want to make but you’re scared because you’re not sure how it will work out?
Thinking back to my own leap, I only want to say this.
LEAP. And then trust with all your heart, while showing up FULLY every day in what you’ve chosen. You will never know what’s on the other side if you don’t.
A Good Question
As I was pondering that big jump I made again, this morning, I the thought arise:
“So what ELSE am I scared of that I can act on, trust and show up for?”
Of course, it’s much easier to WRITE about something than do it, and it’s easy to see how beautifully it worked out in hindsight.
I decided to challenge myself a little bit and get in touch with something I’d been procrastinating on because of fear.
And darn – there it was. My heart said “Do a FB live video!!” while my brain shouted “NOOO – that’s too scary! You’ll look silly, stumble over your words, forget what you want to say and look foolish. Just like in high school!” (Can any introverts relate?)
I remembered to breathe, and asked myself “What’s on the other side of this fear?”
I didn’t know. And I really wanted to find out. I enjoy choice. If I find out I don’t enjoy the video, I never have to do it again. But to let myself lose out on an opportunity to do something I might enjoy, because of a fear, is just silly.
So I sat down, with imperfect lighting, imperfect hair, trembling a little, not even preparing in case I backed out – and just did it.
What was the other side of the fear for me, today?
Courage, accomplishment, a big smile, “that wasn’t so bad – I could probably do it again!”, pride, feeling like punching my fist in the air… and confidence.
So many of my clients struggle with this thing called confidence. And I have to tell you honestly – me too.
It’s partly a strengths-thing. In the Gallup StrengthsFinder assessment, there’s a particular strength/talent called Self-Assurance. Mine is on the low side, meaning I find it hard to take risks, I’m not confident I’ll succeed, and it’s harder for me to recover or feel resilient when things do go wrong, than for someone with high Self-Assurance. Perhaps you relate.
And – it’s not only a strengths thing! It’s also an action thing.
I have found, again and again – that when we jump in and take action on the scary stuff even before we have confidence, the actions themselves BUILD confidence as we discover that we don’t die, we’re capable of more than we thought, it gets easier as we go along, and we can even be GREAT at the thing we’d feared.
I invite you to ponder
- What do you fear, yet feel an inner pull towards?
- What might be on the other side of that fear?
- Will you ever know if you don’t give it a fair chance?
I’d love to hear from you in the comments – look at the questions above again and share your thoughts.
If you’re in need of inspiration, encouragement and being in the company of introverts who want to make a difference in the world, in their own quiet and authentic way, here’s a warm invitation to become a member of the free group – Inspired Introverts Hangout. I look forward to welcoming you there!
Liesel helps sensitive introverts to see their sensitivity as a superpower, love their work and practice awesome self-care so they can be energized and make a difference in a meaningful and fulfilling way. She helps them to overcome the fear of being visible, avoiding the spotlight and conflict, being ‘too nice’, perfectionism and procrastination.
She’s the author of “No Problem. The Upside of Saying No”, which is a handbook for those who struggle to say no, are overwhelmed and exhausted.
Click here to read about the book.