Lesley and I share many viewpoints and we have known each other for so long that sometimes I don’t know from whom the thought originated. I remember first hearing this idea in college and I spout it often, however, we both pass on this advice, often. Its a very important idea to use in your life, daily. You have nothing to fear in any situation if you first come to terms with the worst possible outcome. Let me put it another way to clarify: if you figure out what the worst thing that can happen if you make a certain decision and become ok with that, you’ll be less fearful of taking that step or making that decision. Lesley and I have cured many an ill of others, or our own with this nugget of wisdom. Yes, it’s along the lines of that famous JFK quip: we have nothing to fear but fear itself. It’s so very true.
Think about something you fear or something that is frustrating you right now not allowing you to move forward. Why are you fearful, or stagnant, or both? Are you frustrated at work because you don’t want to ask for a raise but feel that you’re work is worth more money? What is the worst-case scenario if you ask for more money: they say no and fire you instead. Let’s sort through this one. No company is going to fire you without due cause, and asking for what you are worth is not “due cause.” However, if you do get fired only because you asked for more money, it’s a terrible company and you don’t want to work for them anyway. These thoughts of getting fired for simply asking what you’re worth, are somewhat irrational and really extreme. So, back up a notch. Are you afraid of stating what you’re worth, or think that even though you think your work is worth more compensation, the powers that be might not think it so? That’s RIDICULOUS. Even more ridiculous is keeping yourself in a cage where you’re trapped and unhappy because you’re not adapting or meeting your needs. Lesley is the cliff-diving type, as in she blindly leaps into opportunities. I’m more of a bungee jumper, as in I find a bounce back plan and research all of the safety options and review the best possible solutions fifteen times and try them out in less high risk situations before I make a big leap. Neither is right, wrong, nor the only answer for any situation. Both types observe risk before jumping.
Blindly leap, or research first. Either way: just go for it!
I am an actress. (I have to say this multiple times a day to myself, because for the longest time, I thought that I wasn’t any good, and I didn’t deserve to be performing in shows and working with incredibly talented people.) I thought that New York City was just a dream for the longest time. Even though I was terrified about moving here, I had been telling people for years that I was moving here. In 2009, a good friend of mine and I made an agreement to move here together and be each other’s support system and built in cheerleader for the big move. I was terrified. Although I had moved several times in my life, and had made large cross country moves, I was chasing a dream. A big shiny dream that many people fail miserably at. After I finished my 2009 conversation with my friend Jen, I weighed the possibilities. What would happen if I moved here and failed? What did failure actually mean? I figured out that failure would mean moving here, never performing again, and not working in the arts, and after a few years, running back home to California and finding another desk job and apartment to live out my days. Ok… I could handle that. There was no death involved. There might be humiliation, which would not be fun to deal with, but I could handle humiliation—especially since, it would come after I had admirably chased down my dream and made a go at it. If I was only being held back by the possibility of humiliation, then why was I waiting? Yes, there was the possibility I would be a starving actress, but that part didn’t seem to bother me, it was the failing and coming home. That is when I decided that taking the unknown leap towards my fear was far better than staying where I was and continually hoping for my dreams to be fulfilled. (At the time, I lived down the street from Disneyland, so it could have happened that a magical fairy could escape and make my dreams come true.)
September 8, 2010, I flew from San Diego to NYC, and stepped off the plane. I had no clue what was in store. When I made it, finally, to my apartment, my new roommate Jen was out for the day with her parents. I laid down on my bed and cried for many different reasons. Mostly from the terror that I had made the wrong decision. The next day I laughed with my mom about that moment, walking into my apartment and laying down on a naked bed and bawling about chasing my dream. The funny thing is, that first moment, that terror and tearstained moment, is one of the three lowest moments in my five years here (the other two being the realization I needed to move out of my mouse infested—but perfect—first apartment, and losing a friend to cancer.)
I figured out what the worst possible outcome of my situation would be: humiliation and failure. I came to terms with it: I figured that moving to a city where my dreams could possibly come true and making the attempt to make them become a reality was a fair trade off for the downside. Realizing that if I didn’t take the chance at my dreams, I understood that I would be even more unhappy and unfulfilled in my life, which would actually be worse than the possibility of failure and the humiliation. So I did it. Here I am. Almost four years later, and happy. Am I on Broadway? Nope, not yet. Am I performing, yes absolutely. I’m thriving. And I’m not moving back to California unless I get a major contract there. I miss the palm trees, but I’m so very happy I made the leap.
I understood that I would be even more unhappy and unfulfilled in my life, which would actually be worse than the possibility of failure and the humiliation.
What are you waiting for? What is something you’re wanting to do? What is the biggest fear in your way? Come to terms with it, as in acknowledge it and admit to yourself that it could never be as bad as not trying. Go for it. Forget about “you only live once.” You only die once, and its getting closer every day. As my mother always says: if you’re not hurting anyone or yourself, and it makes you happy: do it.
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