Life can be a terrifying thing to ponder in a moment or two of silence. There are a multiplicity of occurrences that can render us dead or in positions that we do not desire to be in. Even with all the positive affirmation in the world and a focus on keeping a positive mindset there is always a painful voice that creeps into my mind from time to time. This voice tells me all the things that I should be afraid of. Fear is a powerful force that we all experience in one way or another. I am afraid of letting people down. I am afraid of never finding someone who I love and who loves me back. I am afraid of mediocrity.
When I consider the path before me I am often terrified. There is hard work to be done. There is a seemingly insurmountable mountain of knowledge to try to stuff into my brain. I need to invest a tremendous amount of my time and money. I need to have focus and determination. There will be obstacles that push me off track and will cause me to question my motivation and passion. I will be knocked down.
I will have to spend more time in quiet contemplation and painful self examination. People will doubt me. I will doubt myself. I feel as I don’t have enough time. I get scared.
However, I am encouraged by the fact that this fear indicates that I am taking a path that will lead to something great. This does not mean that I will end up achieving ‘greatness’ or the exact goals that I have set out for myself. It means that in the act of pursuing my goals I will become a better man. I will become my own man. What I have learned is that the final destination of your life is not the most important thing. It is who you become along the way. It is how you treat others and how you feel about yourself. It is about the legacy you leave and the feeling that you give to others. It is about learning from past experiences and cherishing relationships that you have and relationships that have been broken. Life is about direction and momentum, not about what you tell people when they ask you: ‘so what do you do?’
I am currently reading Chris Hadfield’s book ‘An Astronauts Guide to Life on Earth’ and he is able to sum up my thoughts and emotions much more eloquently than I can. He writes: ‘Ultimately, I don’t determine whether I arrive at [my] determined professional destination. Too many variables are out of my control. There’s really just one thing I can control: my attitude during the journey, which is what keeps me feeling steady and stable, and what keeps me headed in the right direction. So I consciously monitor and correct, if necessary, because losing [direction] would be far worse than not achieving my goal.’
I know that my fears are there to prompt me to action. They remind me to work harder and to never stop learning. They tell me to relish the journey. They show me that my greatest strengths are often found in my weakness. My fears, and yours as well, are simply part of the story of our lives. They should be recognized and thoroughly examined.
I can offer no advice about how to handle your fears as I have yet to fully master mine, but what I can do is invite you to meditate on your own fears and try to understand where they stem from. What you may find is that, in the words of Michael Jordan, ‘limits, like fears, are often just an illusion.’