My life is full of fear…
I’m afraid to say how I feel. I’m afraid to ask for things that I want. I’m afraid to make people upset. I’m afraid to ask for help. I’m afraid to say no. I’m afraid of venturing out of my comfort zone. I’m afraid that people won’t like me for who I am.
This is how I have been living my life for the last 15 years, and I can tell you that it does not make life enjoyable. I chose to spend most of my days in my room lying in bed watching TV, doing what I thought was relaxing and being a homebody; however, now I realize that all that time spent indoors, wasn’t because I was tired, but because I was afraid. Afraid of the big bad scary world, and of taking chances and most of all that fear of failing.
The reason for this is due to my anxiety, which to be honest I never knew I had until this year. All of this time, I thought that my desire to not upset people, by saying things that didn’t agree with them or going along with their plans, was my way of being a nice guy. That’s all that I really wanted to ever be. However, it was through talking with a friend one day who does suffer from anxiety that she described to me that I suffer from it too.
Initially I was sceptical and didn’t believe her. “That’s crazy,” I thought, there is not way that I could have anxiety. Nope, no way, nuh uh, sorry…
So I ignored it, thinking that she didn’t understand that I was just a nice person and that’s all it is. This was until reality reared its ugly head and I started to experience a multitude of experiences that have pained me over and over again.
First, was I got in a fight with my girlfriend, and the first thing I wanted to do was run away. I did not even think about standing my ground and saying how I felt about the situation. No, my inclination was to run. It was just so much easier than having to deal with this situation, and that’s when I started to think that for a long time I have been running away. I’ve run away from everything when it got tough. If a course was proving challenging I would say it’s a stupid course and give up. If a friend was mad with me, I would admit defeat and apologize, even if it was not my fault. If a girl I was dating at the time, had a fight with me, I would say “I’m not ready for this” and break up.
It was in this moment with my girlfriend that I realized that, Ok I have a problem. I realize now that my life has been limited not because of the circumstances around me, but because of my own mind. I have set a ceiling on my own potential, and I am the only one that can lift that ceiling so that I may soar once again.
Thus, in order to do this. I have identified four ways to help me get started. I hope that these steps will assist you as well.
Step 1: Make a List
I am a big dreamer, I think its the Pisces in me. I get excited by the idea of so many different things. Some times on my commute I fantasize about how amazing it would be to teach in another country, or no no wait! Won’t it be awesome to volunteer in a clinic in Africa, NO HOLD ON, even better, what if I start my own business and then travel the world using the money that I make? My mind runs at a mile a minute dreaming up different ideas, and fantasies that I would like to live out. However, the only problem with that is that I tend to lose focus of what I really want. This is where a list comes in handy. For myself, I have identified a few long term goals that I would like to accomplish over the course of the next few years. I decided that since I’m 25 now, Ill make a list to covers till I’m 30 and Ill re-evaluate there after. Once I have outlined my long term goals, I have then made a list of short term goals (ranging from a few weeks to a few months in length) that will assist me in reaching my long term goals. I feel that being doing this I am helping to narrow my focus to help me achieve what’s important. That way as I continue to grow and want different things, I can always modify my list, if I deem it important.
Step 2: Talk to Someone
One of the issues that I always had was that I was afraid to talk to people about what was bothering me. I felt that I would be bothering them with my issues, and I would keep it too myself, allowing it to fester and grow inside me until I would either lash out or just break down. It’s important to be able to share your thoughts and feelings. Talk therapy really works and it helps to say your fears out loud as it sometimes allows you to realize how silly they just might be. So if you have a good friend, family member, boyfriend or girlfriend that you rely on. Let them know that you have something you want to share and sit down and talk to them.
Step 3: Start Slow
You know there is that saying, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” Well, the same goes for transforming your life. It would be nice to wake up the next day and suddenly be a whole new you, but life doesn’t work like that. One of the sure fire ways to ensure failure of your life changing experience would be to try and do too much to fast. For example, you may have added to your list to “work out more” and suddenly you are going to the gym and lifting all sorts of weights and joining all the classes and taking all the supplements. Although, you are taking a huge step forward, it may not be the best solution. This is because sometimes by trying to do too much can result in you feeling overwhelmed and this can lead to giving up. Instead start small, and gradually continue to improve on the skill you want to change and suddenly you will see that as you get better at it, you can do more, and more and more, and the next thing you know, you’ll be looking like the next Arnold “Ill be back!”
Step 4: Have Fun
You are now on the way to changing your life, congratulations! The most important part of this is to realize that it’s not going to be easy and there will be days where you aren’t going to feel so hot, or things may not go the way you want, and you know something, THAT’S OK. Don’t beat your self up because of it. You are only human after all. What’s important is that you collect yourself, identify the relapse, and work to ensure it doesn’t happen again. This is a journey and one that will lead you to learn things you didn’t know about your self, or to places you never imagined. I assure you that no matter what everything is going to be all right. You will do just fine. So have fun, and embrace a new you.
Bye Bye Fear!
P.S: In case you were curious, I decided to list some of goals on here so you can get an idea of what to write.
Long Term Goals:
1) Travel to a new country at least once a year
2) Get a job with an NGO serving under developed communities
3) Move back to Trinidad and Tobago
4) Earn my Phd in Health Management
5) Build a home for myself and my family
Short term Goals:
1) Finish my undergraduate program with good marks
2) Commit to going to the gym 6 days a week
3) Improve my diet by eliminating junk food and snacks
4) Start to learn to cook for myself
5) Learn French
6) Talk to people about my issues
7) Start to speak up more in lecture