Don't be Afraid to Try
The theme of change and transition has been running rampant in my work with clients recently, and so often brings with it expressed fears of trying and failing -- or of being afraid to even begin, out of fear of doing “the wrong thing.” It can be terrifying to take a leap, even if we know we aren't happy standing still in the place we're currently occupying.
Fear can be our worst enemy. We want something to change, and start to believe we can make it happen for ourselves -- and then the doubt begins to clamor inside our brain like an unwelcome house guest. It looks like second-guessing; negative self-talk; anxiety over the very idea of failure. It tells us it's safer to stay where we are rather than complicate things by stepping out in the hopes and dreams of something better, something different. And you know what? We all fall victim to this mentality at one point or another, our insecurities rearing their ugly heads and trying to convince us that we should just hunker down and stay cozied up exactly where we are. We might not be all that happy there, but at least we feel safe.
The familiar is our comfort zone. For better or for worse, we know how to exist there; we know who we are in that space; we know exactly what’s required of us. And on the one hand, there’s a real benefit to forming habits and routines that keep us grounded and give us structure and help us make sense of our lives -- we are meant to create comfort zones & feel the security of the familiar, as deep down, we all long for a sense of belonging.
Yet, we need a counter balancing force to that as well. We can’t just stay there, rooted and terrified to take steps in any direction, afraid of what might happen when we venture off into the unfamiliar. When we cling too tightly to the familiar, we deny ourselves the opportunities for growth and personal discovery.
If we don’t try something new — if we don’t push ourselves, even baby steps at a time — we don’t grow. We don’t change. We don’t embrace our innate spirits of adventure (yes, I believe we all have one, even if it manifests differently in each of us!) and discover a lust for life. If we are too scared to try, we will never know the things we could have done, could have created, could have become. We will tuck our dreams and hopes safely away, afraid of what might happen if we let them loose; afraid of what we might learn about ourselves. We convince ourselves we aren’t risk-takers; that we don’t know where to start; that maybe we will revisit those things later, at another time in our lives, when we feel ready.
And all the while, we long for something to change, while resisting the knowledge that we have to be the catalysts.
You don’t have to take your life and turn it upside-down. In fact, please don’t do that. Start with small, manageable steps out of your comfort zone toward something that scares you just enough while simultaneously representing a passion or desire you want to lean into. The passion is what makes the risk worth it. When we start to look at life as a long succession of “tries” and ourselves as people who are willing to take them, we begin to change our perspective.
Identify one thing you want to try; one area of growth you want to push yourself toward; one passion you’ve had burning inside you that you’re finally ready to begin to acknowledge with action.
Try something. You might surprise yourself with how incredible that risk feels.
And if that “try” doesn’t work out? That's absolutely okay. In fact, it's more than okay -- it's developmentally necessary that we all have things we consider "failures" or "setbacks" in order to learn how to navigate them successfully and learn from them, and become people who can grow stronger through those times and use them as fuel to push ourselves in a different direction. If we consider every experience as another way to learn about ourselves and better inform our journey, we bolster our resilience and are better equipped to continue to try new things and choose a path of growth.
So in those moments, don't give up on yourself. Readjust your sails. Give yourself a pep talk. Chart a new course; revise your action plan; tweak your perspective – and when you’re ready, try something else. Keep pushing. Keep growing. Keep learning and changing and reevaluating and finding new experiences and passions to tuck under your skin. The most glorious thing about having a safe comfort zone is that it’ll always be there to return to between adventures and tries. You don’t have to sacrifice it, but my guess is that you won’t need it as much once you start falling in love with the parts of yourself you discover outside of it.
We need roots to remind us that we belong, yet we need wings to teach us the joys of soaring to new heights and discovering the views we would have never seen on the ground.