One sunny day in Madrid, my student’s mother had told me, “I wish I had travelled more when I was your age”. She was clearly content with her life now, but what she said had made me wonder if she had let her fear overtake her when she decided against something she may have wanted. There are many different paths to take in life, and travelling (whether it’s to a different country or all over the world) isn’t for everyone. It doesn’t have to be for everyone. But this isn’t about travel, even though it may seem like it.
What I often wonder is, why did I ever let fear take over my life? I was never a fearful child. In fact, I was the kid who didn’t fear life enough – I would jump from trees, swim across lakes, and even break bones to push my limits (not recommended) – but this went away for a while when I got older. I suddenly started to care about unimportant things, and avoided taking risks to accomplish the things I wanted to do. Not all risks are necessary, but the ones that we need to take to become the person we want to be are definitely worth it.
I look at my dad as an example. He could have easily let his fear govern him when he decided to go back to school to be certified in Canada. As a foreign-trained doctor, he (and my mom) had to endure years of non-medical work and sub-par experiences just to support us. Years later, he decided this wasn’t enough for him. He went back to school – a very risky move for someone with a family – and did amazingly. Now, he reaps the rewards. His talent, his drive, his incredible intellect, and his ability to believe in himself was greater than any fear he had.
Growing up, I rarely had a fear of failure. It wasn’t until later – only a couple of years ago – when I started to really experience this. Something stopped me from seriously considering what I wanted from life, which kept me in the wrong place for too long. Eventually, something snapped. I realized something: I am a natural risk-taker. I always have been. To be afraid of failing at something, or to let those fears stop me, was unlike me. It was so unlike me that I was having a hard time recognizing myself. I felt as though I lost a part of me that I never wanted to lose.
One day, I decided to embrace those fears. I handed in my resignation at work (a job that didn’t suit me). I went ahead and signed up for a program that would help launch me back into the career I wanted to explore. I felt passionately about something again. There was something inside of me that needed to get rid of negative feelings, and that toxicity of settling for mediocrity in my life. If I wanted the things I wanted out of life, I had to be willing to work for all of it. And something even better happened: I realized that I was willing to work for it.
And this started with letting those fears go. It was enough to make me start recognizing myself again. I remembered how I felt when I decided to leave Canada for Spain. That part of me felt familiar at this point. The kid in me – the one who would have walked on fire to make something of myself – was alive again.
Why do so many people let fear ruin their lives, stop them from being great, or stop them from finding the love they want? I will never know, but I’m glad that I no longer allow myself to be overtaken by any irrational fear I had before.
Fear is only as strong as we let it be. Let it go.