I have a confession to make. I broke my New Year’s resolution for 2016. I broke it, and it was one that could have meant something to both me and you, as the readers of Vilda. My resolution was to finish writing a book I’m working on (a vegan style guide!) and make sure it was on its way to publication. I made lots of excuses: my computer broke (it’s true!), I had a lot going on at work (also true), I had to move house, I was generally too busy. Excuses that made sense and seemed justifiable to me – but when the year ended, the sum of all these excuses was that my resolution was left unfulfilled. And I had no choice but to face the truth: that I hadn’t taken my project forward because of fear. I was afraid of the book not turning out like I wanted it to. Of no one being interested in publishing or reading it. Of someone else doing it before me, and better than me. So I hid away in a comfortable tea-and-Netflix bubble and told myself that I had all the time in the world. Because that was a much easier option than facing my fears. And I’m not alone. Everywhere I turn I hear loved ones saying it: “I would love to (insert dream here) but XXX”. And the XXX is always fear: fear of not making it, of not being able to afford it, of not being chosen, of failing, of embarrassing oneself, of losing something that you currently have, of not being certain of what you will find. Everywhere around you, there are people with dreams: they want to change countries, have kids, write books, get new jobs or maybe just new hair colours, but they are too afraid.
So what did I do once I came to this realisation? I cut my hair:
Just like all that other stuff, this is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, but I’ve always been scared of this just-above-the-shoulder lob not being right for me. So I’ve always chickened out and just gone for a simple trim each time I was back in that hairdresser’s chair. But something clicked this time. Maybe it was the changing cities, maybe just the forthcoming spirit of an arriving new year, but I went for it and chopped my almost waist-length hair to a long bob. And I’ve never been happier with my hair or had more compliments for it. But even if that weren’t the case, to go for it is always preferable to walking around town, catching a glimpse of myself in a shop window and thinking, “what if I’d gotten that haircut?”.
Unfortunately, it took me until this year to realise that the same goes for my book.
My favourite spiritual guru Gabrielle Bernstein has on many occasions stated that fear is not real – it’s an illusion our mind creates. Fear does have a sense – to keep us safe from danger – but applied to everyday life it’s pretty useless. Especially if it keeps us from our dreams.
My top five excuses for not doing cool stuff because I chicken out:
What if I fail? Ehm, check! The best cure against a fear of failure is…to fail! Again and again. After a while, the only thing you will feel is meh.
What if no one will care? I care. That’s the only thing that counts. When I was a blogger, I didn’t have a million-strong reader base. But I truly cared about my handful of faithful readers. And as long as I was proud of what I created, that was the only thing that mattered.
What if I can’t afford it? Then you will simply eat noodles for a month. Or two. You will increase your overdraft (ehm, been there!). Or you can take the responsible route – which I am not very good at – and save up some cash before you leap.
What if I will change my mind? If your dream is no longer your dream, you don’t need to feel like you failed. I used to be an actress when I was younger, but one day I realised it wasn’t for me. I’m still proud of my achievements and experiences during my years on the stage.
What if they judge me? “They” are usually people just like you (if there is any scenario where that is not the case, let me know). So them judging you should not be that scary, keeping in mind that they are likely to have been in a situation where they have been (afraid of being) judged themselves.
So as we go into a new year, let’s remember that we are all the owners of our thought patterns. We choose what we think about. So every time you hear that “I’m not good enough” voice in your head, say SCREW YOU voice. Remember why you want to do whatever it is that you want to do. And let’s leap together.
This month I am watching… Black Mirror on Netflix
This month I am listening to…my punk playlist on Spotify
This month I am reading…Dietland by Sarai Walker
Header photo by Annie Spratt via Unsplash, second photo by David Camilli