I have been working hard on not allowing my fears to hold me back. I try not to be ruled by my fears and doubts, but to go ahead and jump in and do my best. If I take time to think about whether I will be able to do a good job, then I hesitate. Often, the moment passes me by and an opportunity is lost – an opportunity to try something new, to make a friend, to learn. Lately, I’ve really been trying not to hesitate, not to stop myself, but to get up the courage to take a risk. I recently came across this quote, which does a good job of putting my thoughts into words.
The fact is, that to do anything in the world worth doing, we must not stand back shivering and thinking of the cold and danger, but jump in and scramble through as well as we can. Robert Cushing
I am beginning to see the value of “jumping in.” At this point in my life, I figure there is more harm in holding back than in plunging ahead. What is the point of being afraid to do something? Oftentimes, once I break through that initial inertia and take a step, momentum propels me forward toward the finish line. I am discovering that it is better to try and fail (or succeed only partially) than to never try. I have grown tired of sitting on the sidelines of my own life. Here are some simple steps I have taken:
I always wanted to write, but never had the nerve to begin writing a book. One day, ten months ago, I jumped in and sItarted writing a blog. My first post contained 164 words. In my first month, my blog was viewed 54 times. I kept writing. Today, my blog reached 30,000 views. 30,000! I never could have dreamed, when I wrote that first post 10 months ago, that my blog would ever be read by hundreds of people each day. Because I plunged in and just kept going, I now have written something that I am proud to say is mine.
When I realized that I was not going to be able to continue driving, I wanted to maintain my ability to travel independently. I was so scared to think about taking the bus downtown by myself with my reduced vision. I really had to push myself to break free from that fear, accept mobility training, and learn to take public transportation. Now, I understand the bus system and know how to travel safely and will always be able to get where I need to go. Because I refused to let my fears control me, I now have freedom and independence.
The other day, after attending the funeral of our friend’s brother, John and I stopped to get dinner. As we entered the restaurant, we saw a group of people wearing shirts with the deceased man’s name on them and Rest In Peace. I wanted to offer my condolences to them, knowing that they were grieving this loss, but something held me back. I did not know any of the people and felt awkward saying anything to them. All through the meal, I kept thinking about the opportunity I had lost. As we were leaving, I saw that the group was still in the restaurant. I forced myself to walk up to their table and interrupt their conversation. They looked at me quizzically. I explained that I had noticed their shirts and that I had been at the funeral. I told them our friend’s name and that we had been there to support him. I told them that I was so sorry for their loss and that I would be praying for them. Their faces turned from quizzical to soft and friendly. They were so appreciative of my acknowledgment of their loss. I was afraid that I wouldn’t know what to say to these grieving strangers, but once I plunged in and approached them, the words just came out and I felt glad that I had spoken to them.
These three examples help me to see that it is possible for me to break free from the barriers that keep me from taking steps to accomplish the things I want to do. I do not have to “stand back shivering and thinking of the cold and danger.” I can jump right in – write a few words, learn a new skill, speak some kind words – and “scramble through” as best I can. Usually, the cold and danger only exist in my mind. I just need to take one step to break free from the wall of my fears, my hesitation, my inertia. On the other side of that wall is freedom and life and joy.