Someone once said, “The only way out is through.” And it has forever haunted me in my dreams. Not in a spooky way, but in the way that those six little words held such an incredible amount of meaning. It may seem counterintuitive to follow the path that terrifies you most, but if you’re looking for growth, it’s the only path you should follow.
I, of course, am not speaking about the fear you feel when you know something is wrong and feels off or dangerous. I’m talking about the situations and circumstances that make you feel uneasy. They’re uncomfortable because the outcome is unknown, or it’s a journey you’ve never taken before. When we avoid the unfamiliar because it makes us feel uneasy, we avoid truly getting out there and living out our wildest dreams. And that’s really no way to live, is it?
What is fear?
Fear has long served as a primal instinct crucial to survival. Our bodies go into fight or flight mode when they sense a threat. But fear can be really complex. It can appear as a biochemical reaction or an emotional response. It can be rooted in personal trauma or fear of loss of control. It can make you feel nauseous, dizzy, or spark an anxiety attack. It differs from person to person.
Why we avoid the uncomfortable.
When we were children, we were open and gleefully skipped into life’s possibilities without a care in the world. As adults, we tend to cling to what feels safe. We develop mechanisms for sheltering ourselves from the unknown. But avoidance of fear and freedom from fear are two very, very different things. Fear is growth. It fuels us and propels us to unfathomable places.
What we should do instead.
If you keep doing the same thing over and over, you’ll get the same results. I for one, have always preferred to live in the known, no matter how unhappy it makes me. I’ve stayed in jobs, relationships, and living situations far past the expiration date. My fear of rocking the boat runs deep. But something really magical happens when you lean into your fear. If you have the inkling that the scariest solution will ultimately make you happier, run (don’t walk) towards it. Do something every day that scares you. Take that solo trip, apply to your dream job, take a leap of faith. Running towards fear requires trust in yourself. Chip away at those fears little by little each day. Pretty soon, you’ll be making leaps towards living the life you’ve always dreamed of. After all, life is meant to be an adventure.