Monday, 10 October 2016

Get out of your story


Nights are the worst. I wake up sweating, heart pounding furiously, worrying. The future that looked bright and promising just yesterday, now looks menacing and full of demons. 
All the what if? questions jockey for attention, creating problems and worries that aren't real. But they feel real. 
What if it's a mistake?
What if it won't work out?
What if I will fail?

During the day, when the sun is shining, my optimism is intact, and I am excited for a new adventure. I think back to all the times when I tried something that scared me sh*tless, and how everything worked out in the end. I look forward to the new adventure, to new challenges, to meeting new people and exploring new places.
But at night, it's a different story.
At night, the voice of doom and gloom is drowning out everything else. It's deafening. It tells me everything that's wrong in my life, it gloats about my insecurities, and it gleefully points out all the mistakes I have ever made. 

I stare into the darkness wide-eyed, convinced that I'm about to make a huge mistake.
Quitting a secure job, at a time when jobs are few and people who want them are many? Madness. 
I will never find another job again. I will lose all my seniority, and pension, and all the other stuff you need for retirement. I'm only 36, and retirement is far off, but why not worry about it now? 

Fear is having a field day. She only comes out at night, when I'm most vulnerable. During the day, I'm guarded by Optimism, who keeps Fear away from me. But at night, Optimism is sleeping. And Fear comes out to torment me.

This is an old pattern, one that has been with me for most of my life. I remember being 8 years old, and waking up at night fearful of the next day's piano lesson, convinced I didn't practice enough and would get into trouble. 
(I always practiced enough, and never got into trouble. But Fear harassed me anyway, because she doesn't care if you are an innocent child or a less-innocent 36-year old. She's a bitch.) 

Luckily, life-long experience with Fear has taught me a coping mechanism that works every.single.time: Leaving your head for a while.
Whenever I'm trapped in the loop of what if/this is going to end horribly, I'm taking a break from my life. Get absorbed in someone else's story for a while. Doing that is easy: Books or Gilmore Girls (other shows/movies work too, but GG is the best antidote to Fear for me. Or The Mindy Project).

Every story I have ever read, seen or heard describes good times and bad, ups and downs, fear and courage. Even fairy tales have tough parts in them, where the protagonists have to face diversity and hardship. Reading about it reminds me that I'm not alone. Life is not a straight, even line; it zigzags, peaks and valleys, and resembles much more a drunk roller coaster than a smooth sea.

Fear will always be there. I believe that every single person knows her, and has her in their life. The trick is to not listen to her too closely. Fear is a liar, feeding on our vivid imagination and deepest insecurities, ignoring facts, and shouldn't be believed.

So whenever she makes an appearance, I like to surround myself with other fighters, real and fictional, to be inspired by their example.

Every good story has its tough parts. Every new beginning is scary. But I'd much rather look back at my life and see that I lived bravely, instead of choosing the safe, yet boring path.

After all, that's what Lorelai would do.




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6 comments

  1. If you weren't afraid or nervous about making big changes like this there would be something wrong with you! ha! I hate that laying in bed at night and staring at the ceiling is when all of these insecurities come running in. I hope you can keep moving forward with your positive daytime outlook and make it to the other side easily!

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    1. Thanks Emily! The coping mechanism is working pretty well. The best part about it is that I'm not alone - not only do I have my husband by my side every step of the way, but I know that all of us feel that way. Just knowing that is so comforting and liberating!

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  2. I can totally relate to this! I get the same way. I recently went through a huge career change. The opportunity came as surprise and welcome one at that but at night (while I was in my two notice period) the Fear would set in and take over. What am I doing this for? What if fail? I know those well. I also believe that a trip to Stars Hollow is the perfect way to help settle all Fears.

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    1. Isn't it annoying how our minds can get so creative when it comes to think of all the many ways something could go wrong, instead of reminding us of everything that could go RIGHT? Fear is wily. But a good dose of the fast-talking Lorelais is a great antidote!

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  3. Amen. I know just what you are saying because I'm there all the time!

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    1. Our minds can be our worst enemies at night. What is it with this vivid imagination that predicts doom and gloom? I wish I could just flip a switch and make it conjure up a life where nothing will go wrong :-)

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