Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free. -Jim Morrison
We talk about the value of pushing ourselves outside our comfort zone yet simultaneously fight change tooth and nail. We hold onto relationships that are not fulfilling when we know we should move on. We stay in jobs that make us unhappy and complain. We dream of the life we want but don’t take the steps required to make it possible. Why do we cling to situations despite that they may not be in our best interest?
Moving on from the familiar, despite however dissatisfying, sets us onto a path full of questions and uncertainties. Is this the right decision? Will the outcome be positive? Will I be happy? Etc. We focus more on our concerns instead of the value in taking the leap itself. But opening ourselves to the unknown, and therefore vulnerability, is precisely what makes us stronger. Therein lies the victory regardless of the outcome.
Does an athlete become stronger by repeating the same workout? No. Does a relationship grow without putting ourselves on the line? Of course not. Do we learn only reading the same book over and over again? Absolutely not. So, how can we overcome fear by consistently avoiding what scares us?
A few years ago I cycled the Cabot Trail. Though I had ridden for years, I had never cycled terrain remotely similar and the mountains were daunting. Could I do it? What if I stalled on the ascents? What if I crashed on the descents? If I hadn't embraced the unknown and stuck to flats, I would never have progressed as a rider.
There are so many ways we can put ourselves out there depending on what defines our comfort zone. Does that mean riding a roller coaster or doing the CN Tower Edgewalk despite being fearful of heights? Does it mean making a speech in front of hundreds? Or does it mean telling someone you love them without the security of reciprocity? Maybe it means travelling to a foreign country on your own and where you don’t speak the language. The possibilities are endless.
Whatever that may be for you, the important thing is to take the risk because of your fear. That is the mark of the truly courageous. There can be no courage unless you are scared.
If in doubt, the real question to ask yourself is what if you stayed the same?