Let’s start this post with an obligatory photo of coffee, because would I even be a blogger otherwise?
Sometimes, there are things we want to do in life that also scare us. We try to talk ourselves out of them, make excuses for not showing up for ourselves or for others and then generally feel crap about missing out on an opportunity because we were too afraid. This can happen in any scenario – that party you said you would go to and then cancelled, the job that was perfect but that you didn’t apply for, that piece of art you wanted to submit for a show but then didn’t… trying to avoid doing things that scare you is not an uncommon feeling at all, and I totally understand it. Fear isn’t a fun thing to feel, so why would you put yourself through it if you don’t have to?
Just over a week ago, I did something that really scared me. I went to a job interview. Not just a normal job interview – at this stage in my life, those don’t really scare me anymore – but a big one, with presentations and groups tasks and full-day itineraries. In the run-up to it, I didn’t sleep, I couldn’t focus on anything else and I just worried and worried and worried. I felt sure that it wouldn’t go well, that I wasn’t as good as the other candidates and that I would totally humiliate myself.
On the day, I completely lost my nerve during my presentation, and it didn’t go the way I wanted it to at all, despite knowing it more or less backwards. This knocked my confidence (if there even was any left to be knocked at that stage) and affected my performance through the rest of the process. Overall, I just felt really nervous and scared through the whole thing and absolutely did not get myself across the way I wanted to at all.
Did I get the job?
Am I glad I put myself through it anyway?
Here’s the thing: this whole scenario was completely new to me. Of course it scared me, and of course any unexpected detail, however minor, would throw me even more. Now, however, it’s not new to me anymore. My next interview on that scale will be far less intimidating. I’ll expect the things that I wasn’t anticipating this time. I’ll know that I’ve been through it and survived before, and that I can do it again, and again, and again if I need to. By putting myself through a situation that scared me, I’ve given myself a precedent and taken away the fear of the unknown. This, in turn, opens up a whole host of possibilities for the future.
Doing things that scare you.
The truth is that there are going to be lots and lots of scenarios in life that are scary. Some will be more positive than others, but whatever they are, we can’t do much apart from deal with them in the best way that we can. So every time you face a scenario that scares you, you have a choice to make. You can try to avoid it. The time will pass anyway, and you might wish that you had taken that opportunity, but you won’t be able to get it back. Or, you can tackle the situation head-on. Dive right in. Chances are, it’ll be a positive experience. And if it isn’t, it won’t scare you in the future and the next time you try it, you’ll have more success simply because you don’t have to deal with all the worry of the unknown. Doing things that scare you is, well, scary. But it’s also liberating, and productive, and it might open up completely new paths for you. So go to that interview. Make that submission. Attend that social event you’re desperate to go to. And if you let me know about it, I’ll be your biggest cheerleader!