This post was written by one of my lovely coaching clients, Kelsey. I asked if she would share her story because I think it will inspire those who struggle with a fear of change.
The title for the past year and a half of my life could definitely be “The Year of Great Unknowns.” If you are like me, “unknown” can be a scary word with negative connotations. “Unknown” is a word that I would rather avoid–at all costs. Living the safe, comfortable, and predictable life is alluring, and for most of my life, I had done just that. Living the safe life had been great and rewarding.
Yet, when the unexpected stormed in and shook up my carefully constructed routine, as it tends to do (just when we think we have everything in order!), rather than cower in fear and retreat into the proverbial turtle shell, I decided to rise up and take the challenge life had just thrown at me.
“After all,” I told myself, “you only live once. Who knows what’s out there in the world waiting for me if I just poke my head out of the shell and take a look around?”
Leaving Security Behind
It started with a move to a new state and leaving behind the safety of a secure 8-5 job I loved. I left the only community of friends and family I had known most of my life. I felt like I was stepping out onto a tight rope with no safety net beneath. There were so many unknown variables with which to contend!
I often questioned my sanity, my plans, and my capability as a single thirty-something to start over and try something new and vastly different. What if it was all too much? What if I failed? What if I couldn’t go back? What if my life, as it had been up to this point, had been good enough? What if I was tempting fate by hoping for something fresh, and maybe even better?
Anxiety and fear were working around the clock to dissuade me. I was not sure I could handle this much “unknown” in my life. There was, however, a constant, still, small voice pushing me towards the unknown…to actually believe that there was something even better on the other side.
So, I did it. I made the move, went into business under my own name, and started trying things I had never done before. I realized that the only thing I had to fear, really, was regret.
I became a blog reader and stumbled upon The Blissful Mind. I learned to balance my work and personal life with rest in the midst of change. I learned from Shelly Miller’s Sabbath Society to engage in “extravagant wastefulness” every once-in-a-while, by being okay with doing nothing on a day off.
I found strength and a calling in Brené Brown’s work and learned how to “Dare Greatly.” I took risks and chose to be vulnerable, especially when the world told me to present my ‘perfect’ self and stay safe by not presenting my contribution to the world for recognition. I found myself pursuing dreams and goals I did not even know I had.
In the midst of all these thrilling changes, I decided to participate in Catherine’s coaching program to gain perspective and clarity around where I wanted my life to go next. I accomplished all my goals in 3 months! The most surprising outcome of my work with Catherine was that all of my new goals involved even more unknowns than the ones with which I began! I found myself excited to try something new—I was even ready to walk the tightrope without the safety net this time.
Courage, strength, challenge—and a truer version of myself—had all been hiding in the Unknown, on the other side of fear.
I never would have found these new dreams and desires if I had not taken that first initial and terrifying step into the undiscovered opportunities from which I had so diligently protected myself.
Here I am, a year and a half later, having discovered an innate bravery I never knew I had. I am making another big move, making another exciting career change, and traveling to Uganda to bring hope and healing to people there through a non-profit organization. I am terrified to travel internationally and there are so many unknowns in this work in Africa; yet, I have never felt so alive, or believed so strongly that greater things are waiting if I just let go of my fear and walk into the Unknown.
My anchors along the way have been my faith in God, the stability of a routine that I perfected through help from Catherine, and Brené Brown’s work in Daring Greatly and Rising Strong.
Have I made mistakes along the way, succumbed to anxiety at times, broken down in tears, questioned all that I am doing, wanting to go back to what is comfortable? Absolutely!
What gets me back up again is my belief system and those things that I know to be true; I am loved by friends and family and I am brave.
In the words of blogger and author Mandy Hale, “Change can be scary, but you know what’s scarier? Allowing fear to stop you from growing, evolving, and progressing.” I have grown, evolved and progressed more in the last 18 months than I have at any other time in my life—all because I faced my fear of the Unknown and embraced change.
And in an ironic twist, I find myself seeking out the Unknown now, to see what awaits me there! So here’s to taking what life throws at you, unexpected or not, and finding your bravery in the midst of it. I promise you, your destiny is on the other side of the Unknown. Walk into it!
About The Author | Kelsey is a licensed mental health therapist with years of experience working with a variety of populations and ages. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Northwest University and a Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology. In her free time, Kelsey loves to read, run races and enjoy all the Pacific Northwest has to offer.
Did you relate to Kelsey’s story? Let us know what bravery means to you!