On Being Scared of Change and Embracing Fear

When I was a kid I was afraid of change. I shared the same room with my sister until I was 9 when my Mom asked us to move rooms so she could use our old room as an office. I refused to move, not liking the idea of things being different. Eventually, I agreed to the move, not because I decided it would be a good thing, but because my sister and her friends just started moving our stuff.

I went from that kid who didn’t want to switch rooms, to feeling restless if I hadn’t moved within the last year.

It wasn’t one big leap that led me to enjoy change so much. It started slowly. I always moved one step at a time out of my comfort zone, slowly letting go of my fears along the way and embracing the change. I first moved to a new city, then a new province, then another new province. I committed to college for one year before I decided on another, and then eventually a full degree program at a different school.

If it wasn’t for those small steps I would never have been able to think that flying across the globe by myself was even possible.

I still have plenty of fears left when it comes to making changes in my life, but I’m miles away from where I was. The biggest thing I have learned through these experiences is that the larger my feelings of fear, the more rewarding the experience becomes. I almost held back from applying to programs and taking trips because I was SO afraid of the unknown.

Instead of letting those fears overwhelm me I had to think about what I ultimately wanted. Did I want this internship? Have I always dream of going to Africa? Did I want to learn French in another province? The answer, of course, was yes, and I had to keep that in mind every time I had that hesitation that fear caused me.

Instead of my sister pushing me to change like she did when I was a kid, it had to come from me and my desires for my own life. Every time I took a risk or made a change I learned what it felt like on the other side of that fear, and that became the place I always wanted to be. Looking back on my life and all the times I gave into those fears and didn’t take those risks out of my comfort zone I feel a worse pain than any that the fear caused. The pain of regret and guilt for experiences lost and chances not taken. The fear I once had before those experiences seem to be only a vague memory. That’s the thing about fear, once you let go of it, it doesn’t have the same hold on you.

I wanted to share this story because maybe like me you used to be afraid of change, or just waited until someone forced you into those changes. Sure it’s hard and I still have many, many, moments where I’m afraid to take those next steps and change something in my life. I’ve thought about moving to another country for some time now, and although I have told myself its money holding me back I know it’s those feelings of fear as well.

It’s always easier to settle for the life you know than to put yourself out there in the world, but trust me it’s rewarding as hell. Just push into that fear, knowing that on the other side you’ll have an amazing experience. At the very least you will have grown as a person and learned how amazing it feels to embrace those changes, rather than be afraid of them. All it takes is one small change at a time.

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