Fear Will Keep You Small

We are all well aware that change is an inevitable part of life. It can be exciting and scary at the same time. Even the best changes aren’t easy. They come with a new set of adjustments and a time period of shifting. Some changes we go through are self imposed, and other times the choice is made for us. But without change, life would stand still. The growing pains we experience with change are uncomfortable and often scary even if done for the better. It has been my experience that even when change seems negative we glean so much learning from it, that we can choose to see it as a positive in some way. It’s in choosing to see that silver lining that we are able to grasp a deeper understanding. Often times learning more about ourselves and others. Everyone, on some level, is searching for a deeper understanding of life, and often it’s because of this search that we often question why things happen. Why them, not me? Why me, not them? Why did it workout that way? Why didn’t it work out? Why me? Why not me? Why?

As of late I have noticed the winds of change have been gusting more fiercely than usual. Many of my friends have found themselves going through the growing pains of change, myself included. Even though in each case their movement is for the better, new job, new, business, new hobby, new home, new city, new lease of life, there still tends to be a sticky  transition period.

Change may not always seem ideal in the moment, as the winds are gusting and blowing leaves in your hair, and dust in your eyes, often, the part we get hung up on the most, is the place we are currently standing. Recently, a friend, who has made the decision to make a career move, called me saying, she could do this now, or wait until after the Christmas parties and maybe she should wait all the way into the new year. New year, new start, right? Wrong. It was even obvious to her that these were just excuses, the prolonging of the inevitable. She was letting fear keep her where she was becuase it was safe, it was comfortable and it was known. I didn’t need to point this out to her, she said, that even as she told me this, and heard the words, she knew she was just looking for an excuse to stay because she was scared. Sometimes it’s easier for us to stay stuck, because we know that space. We understand it, we may not like it but and it takes zero effort for us to stay there. Warm, cozy, but small and not expanding.

Fear is a tricky thing. It’s elusive and often dressed up as “what’s best” for you. It’s main goal is to keep you alive, it’s one of our primal instincts that has kept humans roaming this planet for a long time, but now our fear doesn’t come in a big furry brown package with teeth and fangs ready to gobble us up. It comes in choices. Sometimes steering us away from that short cut through the park (good fear), and sometimes keeping us from living our true potential (bad fear). Luckily we are smart cookies, born with some level of discernment and if we can’t see it hopefully we have a friend or a trusted someone who will see it for us. Sadly, sometimes we don’t see it and others don’t want to get involved and don’t show you.

That’s when you have to get really honest with yourself. This can feel brutal. But deep down you will always know what is best for you. No one else on this Earth can tell you what is best for you, not your parents, not your grandparents, not your siblings, your best friend, your favourite teacher, your family, or coworkers, no one. The only person who in the end, when all is said and done, has to live with the choices you make is, yourself. And no matter how much people want to and try to, no one can help you. You are on your own in this capacity. Which doesn’t mean you have to do things alone, but you have to choose to seek out and find help, such as opinions, all the tools, and resources you can muster, and all hands on deck, but in the end the choice is yours to make. You can do it. I believe that your purpose in your lifetime is to expand and grow or you wouldn’t be here. You wouldn’t need to be. We all have lessons to learn, places to go and people to learn from. Our existences impacts everyone around us, no matter how little or large.

Fear’s purpose is to keep us small. If you sit down and ask yourself, “What am I afraid of?” Say it out loud or in your head, or if you like to write, just start writing. The answer will come to you. Recently, I did this, during my time of transition and I had two answers, they were, “I am afraid of being controlled and losing my sense of freedom. I am afraid of wasting time.” Once I had acknowledged and accepted these fears, which looking back has controlled many of my decisions in life, I was able to try and reason with it. Think about how silly this was, and how this couldn’t happen even in the worst of circumstances. I have many career options I have worked hard to obtain, and they will always be my options to have. Nothing can take them away, if want to change it up I can. Freedom. Everything I have done in my life has lead me to this point. No time has been wasted. Time cannot be wasted. This honesty has helped me start to put these fears to rest, or to at the very least stop letting my decisions be shaped by them.

I realized that fear wants to keep us small. It wants us to stay in the safety of the known and not grow or expand. If you don’t try for more you will never have it. If you don’t go after a dream, it cannot be realized. If you stay where you are, you will not live to your highest potential. That should be your greatest fear. At the risk of sounding like an after school special, you were meant for great things. Even if only one person ever benefits, or knows about, or is affected by it. It matters not the size of the impact, as I know that impacts of all sizes are felt throughout the universe, what matters is that you did the thing. You went after it, you tried. Whether or not it all works out, you put your best foot forward, or what might seem like your worst foot forward, you gleaned knowledge about yourself and the world that you would not have known otherwise.

When you opt to stay small and not expanding, you become frozen in time, and this will always leave you miserable. Whether it’s a job, or a relationship, don’t under value your happiness. We are not given this life time to tolerate misery and be joyless. We are here to be happy, find joy, and expand in love. Really, nothing else matters. Of course, there is responsibility. I’m not suggesting you run around recklessly making decisions that purposefully hurt others. Have discernment and enough courage to be honest. If you’re not 100% honest, you’re lying. I am advising to make your choices from the heart, from a place that is truly best for you, no matter how scary it is. What’s best for you is best for those who love you, even if it seems they would be unpleased.

My favourite poem on this topic is by William Ernest Henley. I thought I would leave you with it, it has helped me through many, many changes. Hopefully, this post serves as a virtual high five, you got this! Enjoy! 

Invictus

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

-William Ernest Henley

 

Photo credit: Pintrest

This One’s For The Captains

This one’s for the risk takers. The seekers. Travelers. Fordgers. The ones who aren’t afraid to make bold moves, shake things up and take chances. The ones that are afraid and do it anyway. Who pick up and move to a new city, old city, or new home. The ones who put security on hold for something unknown. The best thing about you all, is you are usually the believers, the dreamers and the game changers. You are the ones who soldier on when things don’t seem clear or definite and you don’t have everything figured out. You are the ones that reach for more, that wander to the top of the mountain to see what is on the other side. You have the courage to move forward even though you’re scared. You take fear along for the ride. Then pitch your tent somewhere and say, “this is good for right now.” You, who are the captain of your ship.

This one’s for you. 

Moving, for some, means living a newness. It can be hard. Whether your moving to a new job, a new career, a new hobby, a new country, or new home. A move is a move and it’s not easy. I have moved many times to new cities. Most of the time not knowing much about where I am going, or what the area is like, but choosing a place and taking up shop, so to speak. All of my moves were motivated by work opportunities. I have moved countless times, within familiar areas, but, the past 5 years I have found myself moving twice, to two areas that were completely foreign to me in every way. Which doesn’t really allow for enough time to bloom where you’re planted. It takes time to find your way around, find friends in the area, and activities to enjoy. The different aspects the area has to offer, all take time to discover.

I found that it can be hard to get motivated to invest my time actually living there and enjoying my surroundings. This is how I felt when I didn’t feel like where I was, was my forever home. Can anyone out there relate? Maybe it’s just me, but it’s hard to get totally comfortable and settled when you have your gaze fixed in the future, on the horizon, that will inevitably find you, yet again in a new area. This makes things difficult because it challenges your inner sense of security. You, Captain, don’t get to enjoy that calm, peaceful, homey feel you get from a forever home. The same grocery stores and Shoppers Drug Marts and all the other aspects of your corner of your city that become constants, and extensions of your home. And what I really mean by home, is your life. So your life can feel uprooted, unknown, fluid.

Being the Captain of your own ship has perks. Don’t get me wrong. You enjoy a freedom that is unknown to many people, just like the security they have in their knowingness, is unknown to you. Your life is the adventurous version of living, for sure. But the cost is, you can feel like you’re floating around at sea, constantly looking for shore. So at times you can feel like it’s lose-lose and at times you can feel like it’s win-win and this polarized way of living takes guts. Not as common and not many people can relate how you feel to have your next impending move in the horizon, or at least be thinking about it.

Which begs the question, do I bother getting settled here at all? Well, if you rent or own, that is a tough question. Intellectually the answer is easy as pie. Of course you settle in! What else would you do? But then knowing the right answer and doing the right thing are completely different animals. I can’t tell you how many nights I had to stay in, because you’re not that crazy about living where you ended up, and this makes it harder to meet new people, and then you don’t want to go out alone, and you don’t want to meet new people because you really want to move. Vicious cycle. So you move and have to start from scratch. Again. Because it’s the less common thing to do, it can be very isolating. I often field the question, “So, where are you living now?” 

It takes a steady hand to weather the storms. But you’re doing it, your trying new things you’re reaching out, you’re doing the things that most people will not. You’re living new experiences and becoming more interesting. How can that be a bad thing? You may feel tempted to compare yourself to others, which can be dangerous. Maybe you might feel that staying put offers a sense of security you would like to have at times. But those people might be longingly looking at you and thinking your life is carefree and your adventures are fun, and exciting. The grass is always greener.

You have to find ways to make the home you have, one that you love. One that provides you with the feeling of home you need. One that creates that loving feeling for you. Because your home, truly is where YOU are. And that can be anywhere. I will never forget walking down Yonge street in downtown Toronto during my university days, during the Christmas season, and seeing the beautiful displays in the Eaton Centre and The Bay windows, and feeling more at home than I have ever felt, and I lived in a dorm.

Take the things you love and surround yourself with them. Make your space beautiful, or full of family photos or your favourite scented candles. Curl up with a good book, or tv show and breath. Relax. Find a local pub or knitting club and just go. Even just if you go once. Each day should have one moment in it where you enjoy a connection with another person or place.  Home isn’t around the corner. It’s where you are right now, and if that changes? Well there’s a whole ocean out there. Move.  

Original Image: Grand Bend, Ontario, August 2017

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