HOW TO DO SOMETHING EVEN WHEN YOU'RE SCARED AND DON'T WANT TO
Have you ever had someone think you were fearless and not scared of anything? Have you ever Googled “how to do something even when you’re scared?”
Back in January of this year before COVID-19 changed all our lives, I attended a party for a man who was a close family friend and former employer. He was turning the big 80 and had rented a hall to welcome 100 of his closest friends and family members, some of which were coming in from all over the country to celebrate his birthday.
AN OLD CHILDHOOD FRIEND
Out of all the guests, the one I was most excited to see was his youngest son, who was a year older than me. We grew up together in the small community of Boutiliers Point and have fond memories of playing sports together, going on family vacations together, and even working together as lifeguards and swimming instructors at the local pool.
Coincidentally, we both settled down into our new lives, mine in Ottawa and his in Tofino, around the same time. I was excited to see my old childhood friend and see how he was doing. Not to mention I had a crush on him in junior high, so that may have also contributed a tiny bit to the excitement.
As the party began and the night progressed, we finally found some time to speak. He quickly took charge of the conversation, asking me all about the business that I ran and all the travel I did with it. Turns out he saw many of my posts on Instagram and on Facebook - good to know that my marketing strategy was working.
He was very intrigued and genuinely fascinated to learn how I had come about doing what I do. See, I don’t have a degree in marketing. I taught myself via YouTube and blog posts and somehow I managed to grow it to 6 figures in 3 short years.
A RESPONSE I WASN’T EXPECTING
Being uncomfortable with compliments, I quickly yet politely switched the conversation and inquired about what he did. I asked about his job and how much he liked it. His response was immediate.
“I don’t like it. In fact, I hate it.”
Taken aback, but refusing to be anyone but myself, I bluntly asked, “Why?”
His response, again immediate, “I’m scared, I’m not like you.”
With cliche, he was immediately whisked away to greet yet another family friend, while I stood there, almost in shock.
Although part of who I wanted to be was coming through in my personal branding, I couldn’t help but feel like an imposter. Who was I to present myself this way? I wasn’t fearless, in fact, I can assure you that I am the exact opposite.
THE CONVERSATION HAUNTED ME
This conversation kept with me for the rest of January, into February. When this crazy pandemic intensified in March, I just couldn’t shake it from my mind. I kept asking myself so many questions.
How many other people were waiting until they didn’t feel scared to do something? To take control of their career, health, or relationships? Do most people hold off on pursuing their wildest dreams with hopes that one day it’ll be a perfect day to start? And then what will happen on day 2? Will they have to wait for another perfect day to come around? What event constitutes a “perfect day?”
That’s when it hit me, the real reason that this conversation couldn’t escape my mind was that I too, hated my job. At one time I loved day in and day out. But it became something that brought tension in my body and anxiety to my brain. I realized I experienced a lack of motivation, but kept hoping that it would get better. Contrary to what my friend thought, I was scared.
I HAVE BIG DREAMS.
I have huge, scary, beautiful dreams. Dreams that many people believe to be unattainable. Dreams that do not involve owning a marketing firm.
See, I was terrified of being labeled as a fool, as someone stupid enough to shut down a business that she put thousands of dollars, hours, blood, sweat, and tears into. This could be the biggest financial mistake of my life. This business allowed me to live my life exactly as I wanted to and I didn't want to lose that.
But you know what I was more scared of? I was more scared of losing myself in my business, losing the future I desperately wanted, and losing myself to fear.
I decided, right then and there, that I was not going to allow fear to stop me in my life and that I was going to act just like my friend thought I did on a regular basis: I was going to do it scared.
So, I officially closed down my business to go after my dreams and open a non-profit focusing on mental health education. I have no idea if it’ll work out. I have no idea if I’ll make any money, and I have no professional experience in the industry. I've committed what many of my colleagues believe to be entrepreneurial suicide.
And guess what? I do not care that I went against what every marketing coach will tell you to do and quit before I really made it big. I quit even though I’m scared. In fact, I’m sure I’ll always feel somewhat scared. Doing it scared is the only way to do it. Otherwise, you may wait for an eternity for the fear to go away.
HOW DOES THIS RELATE TO MENTAL HEALTH?
Being out of control is the root of anxiety. We feel scared something will happen that will hurt us in some way. We think we can control life if we are anxious enough, think about all the possible scenarios and outcomes, and stand ready for them.
But we can't. Instead, we get so caught up in thinking about what COULD happen that we don't act. We don't move forward. Our fear, our anxiety, paralyzes us. We don’t ask the question, “how to do something even when you’re scared.” We just freeze.
I’ll leave you with this quote by self-help guru Les Brown.
“Fear is the most subtle and destructive of all human diseases. Fear kills dreams.”
My question to you is, will you allow it to kill yours?