The tragedy of life is not that it ends so soon, but that we wait so long to begin it.” ~ W.M. Lewis
This quote, I believe, is nearly universally true. At only 30 years old, I occasionally wonder if I’m “too old” to attempt some of the things I dream about doing. Parts of me wonder if I hadn’t spent so much time putzing around in my teens and 20s, perhaps I would’ve been further along in my quests by now. Alternatively, I must balance that with the idea that in my teens and 20s there were several “dreams” that I didn’t know I was dreaming – or hadn’t started dreaming. There were things I thought about only fleetingly. Only after time, experience, and reflection did I come to realize what I wanted.
All of that remains true; however, there’s still fear.
We all have fear. Even you. Don’t deny it – somewhere deep inside of you there’s something you want to do or attempt that you haven’t because you’re afraid it won’t work. You make excuses – you’re busy, you have kids, you are too old, you don’t have the money. These may be facts, but they are also excuses. They are a way to justify the fear that is taking over that dreamer part of you, causing you to delay living a dream – living your life.
Sometimes, things change – something you once really wanted, you no longer want – not because of fear, but because of growth. I used to really want to be a meteorologist, then I took pre-calculus in high school. I no longer wanted to be a scientist. Screw that. Not fun.
But, there are a lot of things that we put off because we’re scared it won’t work out. Sometimes our excuses are our reality. Sometimes there isn’t enough money. But time … not enough time is kind of a lame excuse to not start something, to not start living the life you want. When it comes to living, all you have is time, that’s it, and frankly, there’s not a lot of it. The more of it we squander thinking about how difficult things might be, how hard it is to make a change, how scary a project or goal is, the less time we have to actually DO it. With that, the actual “living” part of living your dreams is the journey, the doing, not just the destination. If you want to run a marathon, you don’t want only that moment where you cross the finish line, you want to RUN the marathon. You want the whole experience. If you want to publish a book, what you want is not just the moment where you see your work sitting on a shelf at B&N, but the process of writing, creating, editing, etc.
So, if there’s something in your life that you don’t like and want to change, or haven’t done yet and really want to do, but are just scared to — STOP. Stop right now, stop whatever you are doing (except reading this post, just kidding, kind of), and think about it. Stare your dream right in the face. Think about what the first baby step is toward what you’re reaching for. How long would that one tiny step take? Breaking down big goals into smaller ones makes everything much less formidable. For example, one day, several months ago, I stopped doing nothing with myself and decided “I want to write, and I’m done being scared about it.” I will start by blogging, I decided. I asked a co-worker about wordpress. I started jotting down post ideas on google docs. I thought for MONTHS about what to call this thing. After a lot of initial work and research I birthed this blog, and now I’m spreading my love all over the interwebz (slowly).
However, I will admit, there’s still fear. I want to write more than just blog posts. I have ideas, man. Big ideas. I want to write fiction! I want to write non-fiction! I want to turn my history thesis into a movie! PEOPLE WILL LOVE IT! **but what if they don’t?** See, fear. It’s always there, that wily little bastard. Why can’t he just leave me alone?? But, unlike an unwanted ex-boyfriend, you can’t just block fear’s phone number, or delete him off of facebook. You have to stand up to him, claim your ground, take back your life. Fear? He’s you – inside your heart “sitting there waiting for you, just like a spider” (a la Mammy from Gone With the Wind). Squash it! No, of course it’s not easy, but it’s WORTH IT.
So, whenever you’re putting something you’d always thought about doing on the back burner, give yourself 30 seconds to think about when there will be more “time” in your life. Because honestly, there might not be. The point of life is to live it, now. Take the plunge, start jotting down your ideas before bed, create a plan to reach your goal. Or, just go big: quit your job, sell your house, and move to New Zealand. (miss you!!) Whatever it is, just go out there and do it. Don’t watch another re-run of CSI, don’t stalk your ex’s new girlfriend’s facebook page. Go do something about your dreams. Time is precious. Don’t squander it on something as unworthy as being afraid.
What is something you’ve been putting off because you’re afraid it won’t work out?
What are the biggest obstacles to your living the life you want?