Why is it certain people are capable of taking a leap of faith and going after something they have always dreamed of while others have a list of excuses of why they can't? What is it that is truly keeping us from living out our dreams and living the life that would best suit us? This could be traveling, living abroad, asking someone out, starting a business, doing something that your peer group sees as weird, and so much more. What is it that causes someone to settle or give up when they want something so badly? I believe it comes down to fear of the unknown, of losing our comforts, listening to the doubt of others, being focused on what could go wrong over what could be, and being so disconnected from ourselves that we can't trust our own gut instincts.
For many of us, we have this natural resistance to change. The fears of “what if” take over our intuition to follow what we truly want and need. “The devil that we do know” feels safer than the unknown. We prefer comfort and safety over finding out what we are truly capable of. Having a steady paycheck, driving a nice car, eating at a fancy restaurant, being able to buy whatever we want on Amazon feels safer and, in turn, more likely to make us happy. These things give us little dumps of dopamine, spikes of pleasure momentarily that we believe will give us lasting happiness but usually cause more stress when it depletes our savings and creates bills that keep us trapped in our current situation. The number of times I hear someone tell me how much they would like to travel or want to do something they have never done before is greatly outnumbered by the number of times I hear someone say they have done what they dreamed about. Comfort and temporary pleasure end up killing their dreams.
The decisions I’ve made that have got me to where I am now were all supposed to be impossible or not safe, either physically or financially. I was told I could never become a commercial diver and should go to community college, that I couldn’t move to Austin and continue to work in the oilfield, that I couldn’t fast, run, or get off pills during treatment because my body couldn't handle it, that I wouldn’t be able to live abroad and needed to be close to hospitals, and the list goes on and on. I’m fortunate that these doubts or fears of others only fuel me to go further. The sacrifices and decisions I have made have led me to where I am but they are often minimized to something as simple as luck. It must be weekly that someone tells me how lucky I am and it can feel insulting at times. Some people are truly happy with where I am now and others think it was just an accident and I don't deserve this. It diminishes the hard work and sacrifices I’ve intentionally gone through to get to where I am. Nothing was possible without giant sacrifices of my comforts.
What I’ve learned and believe is that these thoughts and opinions of others are projections of their own fears and have nothing to do with me. What is really being said is not “you can’t do that” but “I don’t believe I can do that so you can’t either”. It is their fears being projected onto me to quiet this alarm going off inside themselves that says “you aren’t living how you want”. The comments went from "you can't do this" to "wow you're so lucky I wish I could do that." There is this fear that things can only get worse if we leave what we have and go into the unknown, understanding this limits our ability to grow. Comfort, or better the fear of being uncomfortable, kills dreams. Ultimately, what is more important than being happy?
Having to face death at a young age forced me to think about all the things I hadn't done that I wanted to. I would think if I didn't wake up in the morning, did I live my life the way I wanted? What was it that truly brought me happiness when I looked back at my life? It wasn't anything I could buy online, it wasn't praise, it wasn't validation or fitting in, it wasn't making everyone happy. It was moments where I laughed uncontrollably, traveling to a beautiful place, tried something new, and spent time with people I cared about and who cared about me. I made a promise to myself that I would beat cancer and, when I did, I wouldn't allow my dreams to remain just dreams.
Losing all your comforts and stability is terrifying. It feels like you are sliding down this neverending hill, trying to grasp at anything that can slow the fall. What I would do if I didn't have my career and way of life? Who would I be then? Would I be able to find any enjoyment in life if I removed the things that gave me temporary pleasure? The things we own end up owning us. The more we have the more we are held down. These objects don't bring joy, they bring distraction. There is freedom in losing it all or giving it up.
What I see with COVID is that we have fundamentally changed the way we live our lives. The way we communicate, work, travel, eat, socialize and express ourselves has been altered. The amount of change every person has gone through in the last year is more extreme, confusing and challenging than anything you have dreamed of doing. Thinking of taking a year to travel, starting your own business, moving away from home, or whatever it may be is absolutely less difficult than what you have already done this year. And here you are still surviving, hopefully still capable of making a living, and, with every changing law, proving you are adaptable to more change. What we should all be seeing and focusing on instead of losing our freedom to move and socialize is our innate ability to adapt and overcome, to survive no matter the odds. To focus on all the things that are temporarily negative instead of looking at what we have accomplished and are capable of leaves us fearful instead of empowered. It causes us to want to put a stronghold on anything we have left which will cause devastation if it's taken away. We close up even more and go into our protective shells, clutching at the comforts we still have.
If your dream was to travel abroad for an extended time and you were told you had to give up going to bars, eating out, and seeing your friends for a minimum of a year most of us would give up and say it's not worth it. Well, we have all done exactly that! Look at how much your life has changed compared to where it was 2 years ago. You are capable of more than you could ever imagine. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable and the doors fly open.
We all have the ability to change and grow within us. Nothing exterior is holding us back from what we want. Not our job, not our age, not our finances but what we believe about ourselves. Our minds and our fears can take over and give us excuses and justify our lack of going after what we love. We move away from uncomfortableness and choose to ignore what our gut is telling us. If you aren't living the life you want, do something about it. Take small steps. Start a savings account, look at your budget, see where your time, energy, and money is going, and adjust it if it isn't getting you towards your goal. Step out of your comfort zone. All the good shit is on the other side.
What is something you have always wanted to do and haven’t done? Write it down, write it to me, write it to a friend. Make it real. Write out what you would have to do to attain it, what hurdles you have to cross and make a plan to accomplish it. Get the momentum going and see how fast it begins to roll!