Being brave isn’t a word that I’d normally use to describe myself. In fact, I don’t really consider myself brave at all. I’d normally consider myself a low-risk taker, probably because I am an only child and a Virgo (except when it comes to buying trainers – on that note, I’m a bit of a gambler!).
Yesterday, I went to the beach with a good friend of mine. On the way to meet some of our other friends, we randomly walked past a petting zoo, clearly aimed at amusing the under ten category, no doubt bored at the hotel’s Easter brunch – but age has never stopped me, (I still can’t resist a go on the swings despite being almost thirty). As we walked by, there was some guy holding a baby python. Understand here, when I say baby, she wan’t the size of a worm; she was still a pretty substantial size, and let’s not forget, a killer reptile. “Would you like to hold her?” they shouted to us. My friend was really apprehensive, but the guy finally won, and draped Suzy (I was asking all about her and found her name the absolute cutest) over my friend’s neck. My friend was literally terrified, standing like a kind of dumb struck statue, meanwhile I was jumping around like a child in a sweet shop, excited for my turn to hold suzy. I gave her a little head rub and let her writhe around my neck, whilst making sure I got a photo* as proof to send to my mum.
“You’re so brave, I don’t really like snakes.” my friend told me, meanwhile our other friend downright refused to even touch Suzy let alone drape her over his neck. This, coming from my friend who’s preparing to complete a sky dive. Isn’t it funny, that what appears scary to one person, is nothing to another?
My mum is always telling me that she thinks I am really brave for upheaving my life to a foreign country, alone, but for me, that was an inherent need that I had ingrained in my very core since I was around age seven. I on the other hand, think that she is really brave for enduring the two years of a breast cancer battle that she had to go through; something that she shrugs off as being instinctive based on survival.
I have had a little hiatus from blogging lately – I’ll compare it to the ostriches survival tactic of burying their heads in the sand. During my hiatus, I’ve stayed cooped up in my apartment, boycotting the gym and watching multiple episodes of Marcella, meanwhile having a series of minor meltdowns and feeling sorry for myself. Minor meltdowns have included rehoming my two adorable fur babies; selling my microwave (and immediately regretting it when I realised immediately afterwards, that I had no means to cook my microwavable rice for dinner that night and had to improvise), and flying my mother out for a week.
Today, however, I dragged myself out of my apartment and met up with a friend who I hold in high regard and who I aspire to be more alike, for lunch. When I read books like, “Get Your Sh*t Together”, he is the main person that springs to my mind, as seemingly always having his shit together. “So, what’s been going on with you? How’s Gus and P?”. Somewhere between my matcha latte and poached eggs, I almost started crying. (Ok, I actually did start crying but I managed to man up and stop the tears from falling and splashing onto my avocado mainly because I know for a fact that he wouldn’t cry over such trivial things, such as “WHATTHEFUCKAMIDOINGWITHMYLIFE??? and also, because I was in a jam packed cafe and crying in public isn’t very cool).
You see, the thing is, that I am very much over this chapter of my life. I don’t want to fly anymore, and despite the travelling all over the world, the staying in five star hotels with people constantly telling me that I am “the luckiest girl in the world”, I just don’t feel it? And I keep taking these baby steps towards a new chapter, meanwhile freaking out intermittently. Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful for my job and I am appreciative of the rewards that it gives me. It gives me financial stability, independence, allows me to see the world (albeit in short bursts) and a very nice lifestyle where I live in eternal sunshine with a pool in my garden, but there is just something lacking and some kind of hollowness in my life that I can’t quite place.
“Pam, the three sections that compromise life is your job, your personal life and your social life. If two thirds of these are not making you happy, then you have to do something, and work is a huge chunk of that. You spend at least forty hours a week in work. You got comfortable here. Your friends lived with you and you had great fun; you had two little cats and you could’ve lived quite comfortably despite not enjoying your job. But now, you don’t have your two best friends surrounding you all the time, and now you don’t have Gus and Penny. Without these things holding you back, you are free to do whatever you want. You can go to New York and do free graphics workshops and network with people! You can sign yourself up to a course. You can job shadow people who you respect to find out more about a new career path. You can go backpacking and travel for a few months; but you need a plan. You are starting from zero and there are so many people who are starting from zero. Zero is a great place to be! Why aren’t you excited?”
I told him that I am not excited, because I am scared.
(Whenever I tell anyone that I am leaving, they look at me as if I am deranged. As if I have I lost my mind. Who would ever want to leave this playground of dreams? Where adults can prolong their youth, acting like young twenty somethings, whilst well into their forties. Where people go clubbing every other night, and spend stupid amounts of money on all sorts of crap. I am in fact, quite sane, and in this sanity, I have some clarity, and I need less things, and more creativity in my life. But there is a tiny doubt in my mind; what if I regret it? What if I fuck it up? What if I go do something else and have some kind of startling revelation that I have made a HUGE mistake. What if I will never be able again to afford holidays???)
He asked me what is it that I am afraid of, and I realised, that what I am most afraid of is failing. I am afraid of failure. There, I said it. I am afraid of going home, and everyone thinking that I couldn’t hack it. But, for four years, I’ve “hacked it” – the jet lag, jam packed rosters and the lack of sleep is so physically demanding. Do you know by the way, that after you’ve been flying for more than three years, you cannot be an organ donor? That shows you just how healthy flying really is.
“But Pam, everyone has a limit, and everyone’s tolerance levels are different. What you want out of something is different for someone else… What do you think success is?” For me, success is having a career that I am happy and satisfied with. It is being proud of my job and my work; and I do not feel like that right now. In fact, I feel a bit like Annie in Bridesmaids**. If I had to compare myself to a fictional character at this point in my life right now, it would definitely be her. My friend is happy in his job, and is financially comfortable enough to support himself fully in the sense that he has an apartment, a car and enough to travel if he wants, but when I told him this, he replied that despite my outsider opinion that he is successful, he doesn’t yet regard himself as successful, because he has not yet reached his own private goals, and did it ever occur to me, that an outsider is maybe looking over at me, thinking that I am successful? After a huge pep talk from my friend, he sent me packing with an assignment to write a years life plan in the next week, and to watch this video on youtube, where Will Smith discusses fear; specifically jumping out of a plane on a trip to Dubai.
“Everything up to the stepping out, there is actually no reason to be scared – it only just ruins your day.”
A longer version of the video, kicks off with Will Smith saying,
“The problem with fear is, that it lies. Fear tells you, ‘Hey if you say that to that girl, she’s gonna know she has you. And she’ll never really be attracted to you if she knows how much you attracted to her. Don’t say that – no!!! How we get her, is when she walks by – ignore her! Fear tells you dumb shit like that!”
This relates to literally every single thing about fear. The things we tell ourselves, aren’t really true. It’s only fear, talking us out of fulfilling our true potential. Why am I scared to go to parties where I don’t know anyone? Seriously though, because this is a genuine fear of mine? I am seriously thinking about it after that video, and what is the worst thing that can happen? They don’t like me? I feel silly? No-one talks to me? Is that really so bad? I need to flip my thinking around and think instead about all the things that could go right. I could meet someone new, or make new friends. I could be in a place that I wouldn’t usually go to. I might actually have fun, and at the end of the day, if its the former, rather than the latter, then at least I’ll have some new material to write about. Because let me tell you, you don’t find much material sitting home staring at the four walls.
Why am I afraid to text the guy I like? He might not reply? He might think I am too keen? He might not like me back? But maybe he will reply and maybe he will like me too. Maybe he is secretly just as keen as I am. And if not? Well, is it the end of the world? No. Better to realise he’s not on my wavelength early on than further down the line when the heart is more invested.
Why am I scared to apply for design jobs despite having a design degree and past experience in the field? They might think I am rubbish? What if I make a mistake? What if I don’t fit in and feel stupid? That’s the fear talking. I could be bloody amazing after some extra practice, after all practice makes perfect and everyone has to start somewhere.
The moral here is, take the bloody leap of faith. What would you do if fear wasn’t holding you back??? FEEL THE FUCKING FEAR AND DO IT ANYWAY. Life is too short. TEXT THE GUY, WHO CARES IF HE DOESN’T TEXT YOU BACK. YOU HATE YOUR JOB? THEN LEAVE AND FIND A NEW ONE. YOU’RE IN A MISERABLE RELATIONSHIP? END IT. WHAT IS THE WORST THAT CAN HAPPEN??? YOU WILL SURVIVE IF HE DOESN’T REPLY. YOU WILL GET A NEW JOB THAT YOU WILL ENJOY. YOU WILL FIND SOMEONE ELSE WHO MAKES YOU HAPPY. You just never know what’s going to happen! And that is half the bloody excitement. The timing may never be right, and if we are all rigid with fear waiting for the right timing, we might be waiting for so long that the chance passes us by. Fear is temporary people, but regret will last a lifetime.
And just know this, pretty much, the only decision in this life that you can’t reverse, is having a child. Everything else IS reversible or at least salvageable; so on that note, I am preparing to take my own leap of faith, and resetting everything back to zero. As my friend told me today, our generation’s life expectancy is expected to be ninety, so I am only one third of my way through this life. I have sixty more years of this to go, and I might as well choose to do something that I am passionate about. I don’t care what anyone thinks anymore, everyone will always have an opinion and advice to offer me, but my path is exactly that – mine. And thanks to my friend’s pep talk today, I am feeling excited for my next adventure! Watch this space.
PS. Beyoncé says that when she feels down, she allows herself exactly one day of self pity before getting back up and reminding herself she’s Queen B. I have definitely wallowed in my pity party which has extended to ten days… maybe more
definitely actually. So I am going to take a leaf out of her book and as of tomorrow, up my game, (although, tomorrow is Easter Sunday which always involves chocolate, so maybe I’ll start that on Monday after I’ve eaten all chocolate egg temptation).
*what’s also really brave, is that I posted the picture of me holding Suzy on the internet for everyone to see, despite wearing a bikini in said photo and not feeling that great about how I look right now due to my lapse of gym workouts and increase in cake consumption.
**if you have-not seen Bridesmaids, then ummm – why not?