I used to be afraid of bread dough.
I know. Silly, right? It was a mystery to me. Baking was something I never did and didn’t understand. What if it didn’t rise? What if I didn’t knead it right? What if it came out hard and tasteless? What if I tried it and gasp failed? I was afraid and certain that the dough could smell my fear. Then one day I was thrown into a situation where I had to do it. Not only did I have to do it, I had to teach others how to do it. I had to teach, with authority this thing that scared me so much. So I prepared as much as possible, chose a reliable recipe and dove in. And you know what? It worked. The bread came out beautiful and delicious. The class was pleased and had no idea that prior to that day, I had been terrified of that beautiful elastic dough. Today, I love to bake. It’s the first thing I think about doing on a cool rainy day. Getting over my fear and jumping in gave me something that now brings me a little bit of happiness. Lately I’ve been thinking about how these same principles affect us on a larger scale.
What are you afraid of? What scares you most? What’s holding you back? How has fear kept you from living the full life you want and deserve? Why? These questions have been going through my head frequently these days.
No doubt I suffer from a fear of failure. There are times that this fear nearly paralyzes me. But should we be just as afraid, if not more so of NOT acting? Of living a life of mediocrity? Of letting our circumstances pull us along instead of rising up and meeting challenges, daring to do new things, creating a life that we’ll be satisfied with when we near the end.
And really…what do you have to lose? Everything you say? Rarely does action result in a loss of everything. I’d say that’s a grand exaggeration. Of course there are risks. There always are. But if you’re not happy, if you’re held back, if you’re not where you want or need to be, then isn’t staying in that place, either physically or mentally the biggest risk of all?
Life is short – unbelievably short. The end will be here for all of us sooner than we expect. And there are no mulligans, no do-overs, no second chances to go back and get things right. Letting a fear of the unknown prevent you from doing something, changing something, taking a chance is just a passive way to ruin your life. And if you go for a dream and don’t succeed, you’ll probably still end up in a place as good or better than from where you started.
Happiness doesn’t just happen. Happiness requires work and happiness requires risk. Sometimes ultimate happiness even requires short periods of doubt and loss and stress. And when we reach the end of the road, is it better to look back on a mediocre but safe existence or a life of fulfillment and happiness, with a few unsafe moments? Which would you choose? What do you want? What’s keeping you from getting it?
What are you afraid of?