Anything I’ve ever done that ultimately was worthwhile...initially scared me to death. -Betty Bender
I have always been highly risk averse. Growing up, marbles was the it game, it was fast and risky at my school, they played for keepsies. Scary AF! I always wanted to play, but usually sat on the sidelines watching, torn by the desire to play and the terror of losing my little marble collection. This fear kept my back plastered to the wall of the school gym instead of hunched over in the dirt with my pals.
Back at school, I remember Darryl, a classmate that used to play with all he had every recess. He played with no fear. He made his shots hard and fast. His confidence both intrigued and terrified me. I am sure he lost a few times, but more often he won. I remember his little marble bag just bulging with his haul after each recess. He had the coolest collection. lots of big crocs and crystals all different colours. I envied him. I always played it safe, I never lost any of my precious marbles, but my stash never grew either. I had my pitiful little collection, every single one of them I had bought from my local store. In our little town, the selection was slim so I only had plain old regular marbles. Even so, I would never put any of them on the line.
It is curious, why did I even have them if I wasn't going to risk them in play. They were toys, playing was the whole point. I may have preserved my collection, but I missed out on the experience and interaction of playing with my classmates. Now I have neither the marbles nor the memories.
I admire those who can put it all on the line and fail spectacularly, then just shrug it off. It gives you a real freedom. Not fearing loss is power! The experience being in the striving rather than the outcome. The achievement is just the icing. I admire that kind of courage. Its taken me many years to finally realize, that no matter what happens, you will be alright. You can lose it all and start over. But if you never try, you can never succeed.
Fear based decision making kept me trapped in an unhappy abusive relationship for way to long. Scared of being broke, hungry, not able to provide for my kids. I remember times I wanted to leave early in my marriage. I stayed out of fear because I imagined that the worst possibility is what would be my fate. I would end up starving in a basement apartment, not able to wash our clothes, unable to make rent. When I left my marriage I was certain I had a life of Kraft Dinner ahead of me. And why was I so afraid of a basement apartment? It still a roof over my head, but for some reason I saw it as a sort of purgatory.
The last few weeks, I have been starting my journey of embracing the unknown. Risking a bit. In the past, I would always economize on everything, afraid to spend on myself. Afraid to leverage my assets in order to grow them. I have started to do things differently. Sometime a simple phone call, being creative and thinking outside the box can pay off huge dividends. I have begun investing in things and experiences that I love. Actively pursuing my goals. It's worth it. Building an environment that truly represents who I am, and what I value. Its already starting to pay off. Hopefully the types of risks I am willing to take with grow. I want my world to expand. There is only one way to do that. To win you must be willing to lose.
I have realized that I have a right to take up space. I have the right to get what I want. I do not just have to accept what is given to me. I can let go of what doesn't meet my requirements or fit into my plan. That's not a crime. Recently in a conversation with a friend, I was telling her how much I was enjoying the changes that were happening in my life. I am realizing I am not who I thought I was. I thought I was a make do type. It turns out, that's not me at all. She said something to me that really stuck in my mind, "That's because your setting the standard now, and your standards are higher" I definitely didn't see myself this way, but the fact is, its true.
This was something my former husband would use to chastise me, when I would reject options because they weren't the quality I wanted. He used to tell me I was a snob, thinking I was too good for this or that. It was proof that I was a demanding bitch. He would beat me over the head with that. It made me feel terrible, I would not only deprive me of the joy of making my choices, but it made me feel horrible and unworthy for having my own preferences or requirements. Who was I to think I was to refuse what was available. Life was about scarcity, not about your wants or needs. I should know my place right? How dare you think you actually deserved that, take what you get! You might not get another chance. Don't your dare demand or want more.
But you know what, there is nothing wrong with wanting more. Nothing wrong with rejecting something that doesn't meet your desires or expectations. That is not a fault of your character, that is your prerogative. Reach for it, the worst that will happen is you don't get it. But, what if you do! Imagine
I am finally truly understanding, its worth investing in yourself. I am worth it. In the past, I would settle, spending money seemed like a huge risk for me. Just like hanging on to my marbles. I was afraid of losing it. But money is meant to be used. It comes and goes. How you choose to use it makes all the difference. It can be used to give me and my children a good quality of life, to give us memorable experiences.
Taking the trip to Italy with my daughter last fall scared me to death. It was expensive, and I did leverage debt to make it happen. I wasn't sure I could really afford it. But the opportunity was there at that moment, and it was either jump in or miss out forever. There would be only one chance to tour Italy with my 16 year old daughter. In the end, it turned out I could afford it. My daughter and I now have that memory in our bank forever. It was an wonderful experience for us both. I am so glad I didn't let my fear of poverty make that choice for me. I have the opportunity to do more than just exist. Life is out there waiting for me to shape it. I can do what ever I want.
I want more, I want to grow, I want a whole new life. In order to do this, I am going to have to get out of my comfort zone. I was listening to a book by Matthew McConaughey, and in the book he says "Society rewards the confident". Confident people are not worried about failing, but can handle it if they do. As he had said "what's the worst they can do, say no, take away your trophy. big deal!" I think that is the key. Knowing that if you do fail, you will be ok, its not the end of the world. You just try again.
This is a psychological shift I feel taking place in my soul. I am becoming less afraid of failing. Its so liberating. I have been standing on my own two feet, and I realize, hey! I am ok. I made it through that divorce just fine. I can do this!
Now, I often wonder what my life would be if I had followed through on my desire to leave so long ago. Now recognizing that the world isn't as terrifying as I had perceived. I would have met someone else, built a whole new reality. Now I know the unknown is no where near as scary as I had imagined it to be. I was afraid to dream, never truly believe I could step outside the little world we had built. I was forever stuck in a world of mortgage payments and daily grind. When I first met my former husband, he told me only irresponsible losers go on backpacking travels. (I had wanted to do a year long excursion) You are supposed to be building a life, in his mind he meant buying a home, having kids etc. Basically settling into the suburban lifestyle. Mowing your lawn, taking out the trash, having coffee over the fence with neighbours. That was his idea of life. I think he told me this, because he knew if I went out into the world, in all likelihood I would see he was not my best option. I conformed believing the lie I was not capable or worthy of anything else.
But the truth is for me, home is just a base, what I want is out there at the end of a plane ride. I am so grateful for my friend on Vancouver Island that showed me I can go where ever I want. My first step was to go visit her and see a place I had previously only dreamed of. It has now become my second home, I am there all the time. I have learned, I can go where ever I want. Places I had only dreamed of are within my reach. (Pompeii omg, I dreamed about visiting since grade 4) The barriers that held me back from pursuing my dreams were only in my mind.
Now that have I started living this way, it turns out the threats and disasters I had imagined not only never happened, but were highly improbable. My fears, completely unfounded. The rewards however are far sweeter than I had ever imagined. I learned I am more than capable of providing for myself. I don't think I was ever at risk of epic financial ruin, it just my mind, scaring me into submission.
I think this is some pretty positive growth. It feels good. I still have a long way to go. But for right now I am just going to sit here and savor this. Start dreaming, and awakening to the fact you can make those dreams come true. It's all in you!