“Don’t Let Fear Decide For You”

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Dear Reader,

Cal asked me to write about a life lesson, or many lessons that I’ve learned, for her blog. I was very flattered and excited that she asked me to do so. Back in the day (aka not even a full year ago) I majored in Communications Studies and would whip out papers left and right. Research papers were my jam and essay questions never intimidated me. I was excited to have a reason and a purpose to write something (though after writing this – I see how writing serves a purpose of clearing your mind and making sense of your thoughts – and that is a good enough reason to write something).

I started to jot down any thought that came to mind about this topic. Any sort of mantra I live by, any philosophy I have adopted, and any lesson I’ve learned in my 22.7 years of living (where my millennials at?!). Here are some lessons I came up with:

  1. You don’t have to find friends just like your other friends.
  2. You can literally do anything you want to do.
  3. Don’t be judgmental of judgmental people.
  4. Better late than never.
  5. Eat and live in color.
  6. Balance.
  7. If you are a kind person and do good for the world – you will be okay.

So yes, all of the above are great lessons that I’ve learned from past experiences and am retaught them all of the time. I’m guessing many of you have also learned the same lessons. Therefore, I wanted to focus this post on a single lesson I’ve learned that either trumps all others or is most relevant to my life right now. As I’m sitting in Terminal 1 of the San Diego Airport writing this entry, I have stumbled upon my BIG, MACHO lesson. Who knew the airport would be such an environment for creativity and introspective thinking?

I ventured to the newsstand to buy a book for my 3+ hour flight. This process was pretty difficult for me. When presented with too many options, such as an entire wall of books and novels, I get too obsessed with picking the best book and to not waste any money or time on an alright book. I skimmed the shelves hoping that a certain title or cover would jump out at me. Was I in the mood for a fun and flirty book about New York’s Upper East Side women?… No, that story line is old. Was I in the mood for a comedy novel by Amy Pohler, Tina Fey, or Aziz Anzari?… Maybe, but which one?! Then I thought, if I’m going to spend time reading a book, I should read something that will help me get smarter about my career and my future. After facing an inner struggle over which book to buy for about 7 minutes, I almost gave up and walked out of the store without a book.

DUMB.

I went back, grabbed a book titled, “Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear” by Elizabeth Gilbert, and bought the dang thing. I couldn’t believe that I had spent almost 10 minutes deciding which book to buy and almost left with nothing – as if all of the mental progress and effort I had just made was wasted or non-existent.

DON’T OBSESS OVER ACHIEVING THE PERFECT OUTCOME.

Why do I think this is terrible?

It’s partly because asking yourself to achieve perfection is setting yourself up for failure… or confusion… because what even is perfection? Perfection is so subjective that it really can’t be measured, so you’ll really never know when you get there, wherever that is. Rather than saying something is “perfect,” I’d like to say something is “just right… for me… right now.”

So, setting yourself up for failure is definitely part of it, but I think there is another part that is even worse. I find that obsessing over achieving the perfect outcome is terrible because I end up doing NOTHING.

I am indecisive about a lot of things. If you take me shopping, I spend hours going through every single freakin’ clothing rack on the floor, I try on more clothes than I can carry into the dressing room, and I end up buying NOTHING. Sometimes I’ll feel bad for wasting a sales clerk’s time that I’ll buy a chapstick or something of the like as a consolation purchase. This same thing happens at the grocery store. I look at every single product on the shelf and ask my self, “Which granola is the most affordable, tastiest, contains the least amount of sugar and the most amount of protein?” Once I finally pick the best granola option and put it in my cart, 87% of the time I’ll go back to that aisle and swap it out for another one. Same thing goes for ordering food, going out, or even choosing a workout on class pass.

LIKE, ARE YOU SERIOUS?

I do this in more serious terms as well. I put so much pressure on myself to find the perfect career. I think part of it is because of the nature of our society these days. We are told to be extremely efficient, work overtime to outdo our colleagues, and strive for success in social or financial standing as the ultimate goal. Nowadays it’s not if you went to college, it’s where you went to college, how many internships you had before you graduated, and whether or not you got a job upon graduation. I love competition and I value hard work but it should be driven by a motivation to be a better me rather than to be a better him/her/them.

I think the other reason I can be indecisive is that I know I am capable of a lot, and I want to pick the perfect tool to showcase all that I can do. I know I have these hidden jewels and talents that can be used to do something amazing. You do too. We all have something special and unique about ourselves. So, isn’t the actual ultimate goal in life to find our true purpose and define success by our overall happiness? Sometimes I wish I could test out a few different lives, pick the best one, and then do it over again. In one life I’d pursue a Broadway career. In another life I’d pursue a teaching career. In my third life (if I’m only granted three chances) I would start my own business.

But the reality is that I can’t live out three different lives. No one can. In this life, we get one shot to try out ALL of our dream lives, determine the best fit based on our successes and our failures, and just enjoy the ride!

So how am I going to stop obsessing over becoming the most successful/talented/perfect version of myself there is? I am going to buy that Amy Pohler comedy novel at the newsstand, and if I don’t like it, try another book on my return flight. I am going to trust in the process and just go with it. I need to listen to whatever signs the universe sends me and be open to and inviting of them. I need to keep my ambitions but let go of expectations. I need to be more decisive and confident in my choices. I need to follow my head and my heart and make decisions based on a good feeling rather than an irrational impulse. Lastly, I will definitely not let fear decide for me.

And if I don’t do any of these things, then I will do nothing… and I’m not cool with that. Ja feel?

Don’t let fear decide for you,

Kailey

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