I will not die an unlived life. I will not live in fear of falling or catching fire. I choose to inhabit my days, to allow my living to open me, to make me less afraid, more accessible, to loosen my heart until it becomes a wing, a torch, a promise. I choose to risk my significance; to live so that which comes to me as seed goes to the next as blossom and that which comes to me as blossom, goes on as fruit.
— Dawna Markova
As my family and I have been making some very substantial and much-needed changes in our lives, the same comment has been made by so many people, whom I have told. The same issue, the same question, is on everyone’s mind, preventing them from making the changes that they would like to see in their own lives.
It is the question of fear.
“You’re so brave!” I hear over and over again. “I hate my job, but I can’t leave.” “Aren’t you scared?”
The answer is no, I am not scared at all. Why should I be? We’re moving to a friendly place, with lots of opportunities, more resources for the Bean, and much less pressure on us. True, I will have less seniority in my new job, but any security that I may have perceived having in my old job, first probably wasn’t real, and second, was not worth clinging to when I was less than happy with my situation. The fact of the matter is that we have so little to lose. If I lose my job, our living expenses will be so low that we could get by working minimum wage jobs for awhile. If it turns out we hate living this way (which I doubt will happen), then we will make another change and live differently. Yes, by moving out of state, I have lost my years toward retirement, but our expenses are going to be so low, that putting some money away won’t be a problem. (Actually, I don’t intend to retire from teaching anyway. We’ll be putting away money for crossing the ocean, as well as money for our care when we’re older). And–while we are not planning on using them, of course–there are safety nets in place, so that we will not starve if things do fall apart completely.
All that being said, it wasn’t so long ago, that I was the most fearful person I have ever met. I was afraid of standing out, taking any risks, or being close to anybody. Survival and security were my dominant drives.
I thought I was stuck in my situation. I thought that I “couldn’t” leave. What changed it was a very conscious effort to change my thinking. First, I realized what I described already–that there is very little at stake. The worst case scenario isn’t that bad. It definitely is not worse than staying in a situation that makes me unhappy.
Once again, it was a matter of looking life in the eye. Look fear in the eye. Feel it, but then observe your thoughts, as if you were a third party. Notice which ones are useful, and which are not. What are you thinking that is completely irrational? Remember that you don’t have to believe everything that you think.
Then–most importantly–even if you are still feeling a bit fearful and anxious, move forward anyway. The fear is all in your head, and you know that intellectually now.
So move forward and catch that dream!