On Fear, Self-Doubt, and Making Changes

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photo credit: Frodrig via photopin cc

Fear

Sometimes at night, just after I’ve lain in bed and am about to fall asleep, a terror takes me over. I think about how I abruptly moved 3000 miles away to the other side of the country, away from everything and everyone I’ve ever known. I think about how I didn’t so much as post this decision of Facebook, only telling the people closest to me, the ones I saw on a regular basis. I forget that, while it was a quick and easy decision for us, this was something my boyfriend and I talked about and planned for months before we moved. I forget because nothing went as planned, and sometimes I wonder if we made a mistake.

I think about everything I had there that I don’t have here–a slightly better a job, a car, friends. I think about all the people I left behind. I think not only about how much I need them now, but how much they might need me. I know they’ll survive just fine without me, but I feel like I should be there for them. I wish I could be there for them, for the big moments in life. I wonder if I made a bad decision.

Then I get up out of bed because I need to move. I need to shake it off. I go into the living room and give my boyfriend a hug and let him comfort me. I tell him I’m stressed and worried, but I don’t go into details because I’m close to tears, and it’s too late for this. I just want a hug.

I go back to bed and remind myself why I moved. I know the reasons. I know that what I want from this city is something I couldn’t have where I lived before. I remind myself that everything takes time, that just because things aren’t going as planned doesn’t mean it won’t work. I still have a better chance of realizing my dreams here than I did before.

Self-doubt

Now, I understand how fear can hold us back. I used to try to push myself outside of my comfort zone so that I wouldn’t become too complacent. I’ve never wanted to be someone who let herself be ruled by fear, or who got too comfortable and began to forget about her dreams. But you can only push yourself so far until everything around you becomes familiar. You outgrow your surroundings.

I think about what I had before: a slightly better job that made me miserable, a car that was about to die (in a city with essentially no public transit), friends that are still my friends no matter where I live. Were things really so much better before? No, I just had more distractions. I had friends and familiarity to comfort me in times of crisis. To be there for me when I doubted myself.

I’ve talked before about my fear of commitment, how that holds me back, and how once I make a decision I become terrified that I’ve made the wrong one. Well, you can only start over so many times because starting over doesn’t get you very far. I’m trying to train myself to see things through to the end, so I can finally see how things can turn out. I’m committed to making it work in my new city because I do love it here.

Making Changes

Thinking about fear this week, I realized how I stayed so long at a job that made me miserable (I only quit because we were moving). It all boils down to fear, self-doubt, and habit. I worried that I wouldn’t find a job that paid me the same or more, that I wasn’t qualified for anything else. I told myself for so long that I couldn’t find a better job until I had more experience, more education, or more training. But now I think that maybe the reason I still work for $10 an hour even though I have a college degree isn’t because I’m not qualified to do anything but because I’ve never done anything else. This is all I know. I go back and forth in my head  between telling myself Come on, I have a college degree there has to be something out there that will pay me enough to pay my bills and thinking  I have a completely useless degree, what else can I possibly do?.

I talked last week about my goals for working on my portfolio and how my lack of one is one major impediment in my plan to go to grad school. The other is my inability to afford school right now. My current job doesn’t pay me enough to pay my bills let alone pay for grad school. So my other goal for this month is to apply to at least 2 jobs every week until I find a new one that pays me more. That may not seem like a lot, but there are only so many hours in a day. And I need to leave time to write.

I’m trying to work everyday on taking the steps necessary to build the life I want. Nothing is permanent and nothing is unchangeable. I’m starting to look at my life and see how things are connected and how I can focus in all areas on achieving my goals. I’m looking at everything I need to do right now as small steps for ultimately accomplishing the changes I want to see in my life.

Somewhere along the line I let fear, self-doubt, and complacency into my life, and without knowing it was even there I let it begin to have some control. But I see it now, and now that I see it, I have control again. I can change things. I can let change happen. Everything I do now, every decision I make, is building the future and contributing to the shape of life to come. I used to be impatient, wanting to hurry up and be the successful me I want to be one day. Now, I’m thinking more about the long game. There are a lot of little steps I have to take first. It might take awhile, but I’ll get there. The time will pass anyway.

I read somewhere that fear is proof that you’re on the right track because you can only fear failing at something if you truly want it.

When I really look deep inside, I don’t truly believe that moving away was a mistake. Maybe it was actually the best thing I could have done. I pushed myself irreparably out of my comfort zone. I put myself in a situation where I had no choice but to look inside myself and decide who I want to be and what kind of life I want to live. I’ve had to make choices and commit to them.

And what do I have now: a shitty job, but wonderful opportunities for something better, no car (and no car insurance, gas, or repair expenses) and access to a great public transit system, and new friends.

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