Fearing what you may discover

I was talking to a friend recently who mentioned she was struggling with deciding on her goals. She was scared because she didn’t know what she might discover if she took the time to reflect on what was truly important to her.

I started to imagine what I might be doing if I was in a similar situation feeling that same way.

I imagined I would keep doing what I was currently doing–business as usual. I’d allow my momentum to continue carrying me through life. I would invest my time, energy, and attention in things that might not be all that important to me.

I wouldn’t look at things that genuinely interest me. I’d be afraid about what I might discover. Maybe I’d learn that what I’m doing now doesn’t matter to me, and that would turn my day-to-day into a real slog.

I wouldn’t feel confident about what I’m doing with my life. I’d always have the sense that I’m meant to do something different–that I would have much more potential for growth and impact in another area. But I wouldn’t know what that “something different” was. I’d feel that soft, subconscious pull.

I’d worry that I’d discover that I missed my chance. I’d worry that I’d learn that there is something I’m called to do, but the window to switch onto that path would have already closed on me.

But if I’m doing all these things, I’d be preventing myself from discovering who I am and what matters to me.

It doesn’t always feel like it, but acknowledging reality allows us to reclaim our power. If you know you’re on the path you don’t want to be on, you can choose if you wish to stay on that path or switch to a different one. If you don’t know you’re on the path you don’t want to be on, you’re leaving things to chance or fate.

It makes sense that your momentum pulls you. As Robert Frost alludes to, the road more travelled offers predictability and comfort. You’re familiar with this path, and you can see where this path leads. In this way, it feels safer than the road less travelled by. You don’t know where that less travelled road might take you.

So what happens if you get curious about what things genuinely interest you? About the things that truly matter to you?

You can start to understand yourself better. You can begin to see where you might feel resistance in your day-to-day life due to living it in a way that doesn’t feel authentic. You’ll become empowered to make more intentional choices in each moment.

You’ll start to gain self-confidence. You’ll begin to trust that you’re doing exactly what you should be doing with your life.

And while some windows are real, they’re more often self-limiting beliefs we impose on ourselves.

So how can you distinguish one from the other?

One way is to look for counter-examples.

Suppose you believe you must be in your 20s to attend medical school. If you look and discover a 50-year-old who graduated from medical school, you know that it’s just a self-limiting belief that you’re carrying around.

(Also, it’s interesting to note that windows can move over time. Many years ago, the bar to go to space was high. You had to have excellent physical and mental fitness. As time progresses, that bar continues to get lower and lower.)

If you’re avoiding doing self-reflection because you’re scared about what you might discover, there’s no reason to feel ashamed about being afraid. Your fear is there because it’s trying to protect you.

However, consider that you may already be strong enough to discover your authentic self.

Leave a Reply