Start taking yoga classes. Learn to Drive. Learn British Sign Language. Go on holiday to Dublin. Get my writing out in the world.
These are all things I have wanted to do for such a long time, years even, but I’m only now starting to work on making them happen. They’re not huge things, so you might be wondering why it’s taken me so long to get moving. The answer is fear.
I’m shy and can get quite socially anxious around large groups of people I don’t know. I know there isn’t really any talking during yoga classes, but what about after? People in the class might notice I’m new and come over to say hi. Talking to people I don’t know is something I really struggle with. And what if, because I struggle, they think I’m rude and standoffish?
With driving, the fear is probably obvious; I’m terrified of being in control of a vehicle, of potentially losing control and hurting someone. We all know that in the wrong hands, a car can be dangerous. What if I knock someone over, or crash into another car?
I really want to learn British Sign Language. I feel it’s unfair how, at work, deaf customers have had to try so hard to get me to understand what they’re saying or asking; I should make more of an effort to understand. But as well as the fear of meeting new people, there’s also the fear of failure. What if I simply can’t grasp it, or keep making mistakes?
I would love to go on holiday to Dublin. I’d love to go on my own and see the places I’m interested in. But I’m not the most savvy of people and I would only have myself to rely on in a different country, especially since I won’t know anyone. What if I get lost, or make an error with bookings?
I love writing about things I feel strongly about; I love the idea that my writing might strike a chord with someone, make them think a little differently, or help them with how they see themselves. I’d love my writing to reach a larger audience, which means pitching ideas to other sites. My writing might be rejected. What if they don’t like my ideas, or if the final piece isn’t what they were expecting?
What if, what if, what if.
I recently read ‘Me Before You’ by Jojo Moyes and there was something Will said to Lou that really spoke to me:
“You only get one life. It’s actually your duty to live it as fully as possible.” (p252)
I am not living my life as fully as possible; I’m allowing fear to hold me back. And while I can look back now and feel disappointed at the years I’ve wasted, I’m being kind to myself. I can accept that I have these fears, that it’s ok to be scared. What’s not ok is to continue to let my fears keep me from getting out there and doing the things I want to do.
Embracing the fear and doing it anyway is an act of self-love.
“Although difficult, change is always possible. What holds us back from making the changes we desire are our own limiting thoughts and actions.” – Satsuki
I owe it to my body. My body needs me to exercise; I’ve already started looking up local yoga classes for beginners. I’m never going to get better at meeting new people if I don’t actually meet new people. And it’s far more important to show my body some love than it is worrying what others might think of me. What is it I’m actually worried about them thinking? We’ll all be there for the same reason, we’ll all be in the same boat. And I may even make some friends.
When I’m learning to drive – emphasis on learning – I’ll be taught how to control a car. I won’t pass my test until I am deemed safe enough to drive. That’s the whole point of driving lessons and the driving test! Once I am able to drive, I’ll have so much more freedom. I’ll be able to go out for day trips to other parts of the country and do other things I love.
When I learn British Sign Language, it’s something I’ll be doing for me. I will be paying to learn and hopefully I’ll enjoy it! I won’t pick everything up straight away, I will make mistakes and get things wrong, but that’s all part of learning. And I know I’ll feel such a sense of achievement, knowing I’ll actually be able to talk to any deaf people I meet.
I can do some extensive research and planning before visiting Dublin. I can get maps and guide books, plan out an itinerary for any places I want to visit, and find out where Travel Information is. I can make it work. And if I do end up getting lost, I can always ask for help and directions. I have always wanted to go to Dublin. I won’t be kept from visiting that amazing city.
I know I can write, and I know there are those who enjoy reading what I have to say. If I decide I want to make a career for myself in writing, I need to have a body of work and I’m only going to get that if I pitch. If my writing is rejected, it’s not necessarily because it’s bad. It could be that it isn’t the right fit for that particular site, or perhaps it needs more work, or yes, maybe who I pitched to simply doesn’t like how I write – and that’s ok. Feedback and constructive criticism is only going to help me improve as a writer. There is no bad outcome to pitching. This is my passion, so I’ve just got to go for it.
“If you don’t go after what you want, you’ll never have it. If you don’t ask, the answer is always no. If you don’t step forward, you’re always in the same place.” – Nora Roberts
Life is too short; we have to step into the world and go for the things we want. We need to worry less, and start living more.
Don’t let fear hold you back, let it motivate you.
Joanne Stapley is a writer and book blogger using the written word to discuss topics she feels passionate about: feminism, body image, self-confidence, and diverse YA. You can find Joanne at Jo’s Scribbles, her book blog Once Upon a Bookcase, or on Twitter @Jo_Scribbles.