Today, I want to share about fear. Fear of failure, fear of disappointment, fear of not meeting expectations, fear of actually being happy, fear of a host of irrational things. Where does it come from? Why do we let it grab a hold of our dreams and not let go?
I’ve always been an overly cautious person, choosing to look at least three times before leaping. Most big and small decisions have to be met with at a series of ‘what if?” scenarios. I’m not one of those “F**K IT!” type of people. Of course, I wish I was, and I am working on it, but I often wonder what would happen if I just leapt. What would happen if I just did what I wanted to do without thinking of the what ifs?
Recently, I thought about an experience I had years ago. I had gone out with a new friend and a couple other women. We had not hung out socially before, but it was a birthday, I don’t drink and I was child-free, so I offered to be the designated driver. The music was great, the dance floor packed, I looked good, I felt good. I was having a great time! As the night wore on, though, the women I had come with found dance partners and I ended up wandering on my own. I might have looked lost or bored or something because while I was walking through the crowd, I felt a hand on my hand and a voice say, “Hey, you wanna dance?” Even in the dark, I could see what a great smile this guy had. I thought, “Hmmmmm…” I was bored, I couldn’t find my friends and I thought, “Well, I’m the driver, so really it’s up to them to find me! Ha!” so I started chatting with this young man.
The conversation was engaging. He was an engineer, originally from an African country (I forget which one) and he had a great smile. We chatted for a while and I too started smiling. All the while I was thinking, “This guy is cute, he’s engaging, he smells good.” I don’t know if it was the fact that I was basically alone in a sea of strangers or I was just enjoying the attention, but in that moment, I remember thinking, “If he tries to kiss me, I would let him.” I didn’t stop to think about the what ifs. I didn’t stop to think,
“Is he here with someone?”
“Is he single?”
“Would my friends think I was a hussy if they walked up and I was making out with this guy?”
“Is he boyfriend material?”
“Am I sweaty?”
None of that came to mind. The only thing I was thinking was wouldn’t it be nice to see what happens? I would never get to know what could have happened because my friend’s sister found me and needed me, so I ended up just exchanging numbers with him but I never saw him again.
I still think about that night as The Time I Didn’t What If. For once, I was willing to put aside all fears, irrational or otherwise, and just live in the moment and do what I wanted, do what felt good. For that one night, I was a f**k it kind of person. I just did what I wanted, not what I thought was the right thing to do. I probably should have gone looking for my friends and I probably shouldn’t have been entertaining the idea of taking that guy back to my car (EEEK!) but I didn’t stop myself. I didn’t give into the fear. Even today, telling this story, I don’t feel judgement of myself nor am I worried about your judgement of me. I don’t feel regret for thinking any of it. Isn’t that interesting?
The point of this experience is for me to remember that I am capable of just leaping and that not every decision should be dissected and overanalyzed and that sometimes you just have to do what feels good and forget about the fear and the what ifs. Actually, I should say, remember that what ifs also include:
“What if you do this thing and it’s the best thing that ever happened to you?”
“What if I get my heart broken?” What if I fall in love and stay in love?”
“What if this is the biggest mistake of my life?” What if this is the best decision I ever made?”
“What if I look horrible?” “What if no one actually cares what I look like today?”
“What if everyone is thinking about my muffin top?” “What if everyone is looking at my smile instead of what I’m wearing?”
I guess the only what if I should be asking is,
“What if I did it anyway?”