About four years ago, I was in a job I didn’t like. I wasn’t doing the work I wanted to be doing, nor was I in the environment I wanted to be in. I was unhappy. I quit.
At that point in time I was fresh out of college. I had pretty much no money, few credentials to my name, and was more or less terrified. Regardless, I listened to that voice in my head and walked toward whatever it was I thought I should be doing.
What took shape was a freelance career. I struggled for the first year, taking whatever work I could to get by. It worked out. I had a place to live, food to eat, and a little extra to keep me happy. At the end of that first year, I was uneasy. I wanted more. So, I nudged my girlfriend to pack up and head from Michigan to Chicago. Again, utterly terrified and listening to nothing more than the voice in my head.
Two years later, I’m okay. I’m by no means a wild success, but I have once again managed to survive with a little leftover. Now, entering what I might call a third “era” relocating to Oak Park, I feel the same pangs of fear in my stomach. “Will it work out? Will I see my ideas through? What is going to happen?”
Who knows. The reality I’ve accepted is that while life is hellishly uncertain and keen to drop a bit of doom every now and then, 99% of the time we’re just scaring ourselves unnecessarily. Life isn’t perfect and it’s certainly not designed to be under our control. But, and I say this with the utmost gravity, we can control how we perceive what happens to us and how we learn from it.
The trick is to tune out The Fear. Like an obnoxious child begging for a toy at the grocery store: acknowledge it, dismiss it, and carry on. You will never know what’s around the corner. But if you take the punches as lessons, not hardships, you can take yourself to a lot of cool places and develop a tolerance for pretty much any setback. Pay attention to what happens to you and ask “what is this trying to teach me?”
Don’t give up. Keep pushing against the resistance, whatever that may be for you. Remember that as far as anyone knows, we all get one shot to do what we want in our lives. If we die tomorrow, we at least want to look back on an image of us trying. Success isn’t getting there, it’s staying on the path no matter what.