Feel the Fear and…. well, you know.


As the move to California races toward us all at a breakneck pace, I find myself experiencing overwhelming panic attacks at the prospect. What once seemed so exciting is now scary as hell. Of course, there have been certain mitigating factors. The way I had it planned there was a safety net and certain mental harnesses that made jumping off the proverbial cliff a lot less terrifying.

I could take a plunge into the unknown still tied to what was familiar and safe.

But life happens when you’re busy making plans. When I told the universe I was unstoppable, it chose to test my determined war cry with a bunch of cosmic sucker punches.

Essentially I started to feel like I was on an episode of Wipeout and facing the dreaded Smack Wall.

As I lay on the ground and watched the birdies circle above my head in true cartoon fashion, I began to question if these walls were being erected to keep me from staying the course, or if this was just God’s funny way of seeing how much I wanted to succeed by putting my desires to the test.

Frankly, I still don’t know which is which.

I get spun back and forth between the idea that anyone can live the life of their dreams if they just determine it to be so:

And the idea that any road that is broken serves to steer you where you really need to go. As much as we weigh the pros and cons and stare into our internal crystal balls to figure out which choice is the RIGHT one, we’ll never, ever know for sure.

The book Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway challenges that no decision is the “wrong” one because there are lessons to be learned from either scenario. During Oprah’s Life Class series she and author Iyanla Vanzant approached this sort of psychological fork in the road. Someone who wanted to know how to summon the courage to take risks to succeed got this advice: Just take the risk. What’s the worse that can happen? You go back to where you are now and you already know you can handle that.

That was SUCH a brick for me.

So what if I go to Los Angeles and can’t break into filmmaking? I just come back to Texas and keep writing books. I’d rather go and fail than never go and always wonder.

This makes the choice fairly obvious.

And each punch that knocks me down is just one to make me stronger and tougher… one that makes me come up with more determination than I had before. I’m used to fighting for everything I get, and God knows I can take a punch. They knock the wind out of me, but in the end they piss me off and fuel my fire. I’m no victim to my life. I loathe being vulnerable as much as I loathe being underestimated.

If you knock me down I’m coming up MAD… and stronger for it.

Conflict/crisis triggers this warrior spirit in a very significant way, mostly because that’s the coping mechanism I developed growing up in constant chaos. Where there wasn’t any, I created it.

The trick is summoning this same spirit when things are going well. The sad fact is I haven’t been approaching this as a warrior. I’ve been approaching this as an experiment. I made this decision to test the waters based on a few concrete certainties that minimized the risk.

If I had A…. then I could do B.

I could step off into the deep end and not drown, because I wouldn’t have to paddle like crazy to keep afloat.

(Frankly that’s a pattern in my life I’d rather like to leave behind. It’s tiresome and I’m not as young as I used to be.)

So guess what the Universe decides to do in all her ironic glory?

She decides to make moving to CA the dance right off a cliff into the unknown, and my life here in Texas – while dissatisfying – the “safer” choice.

All those safety nets I thought I had? They now have holes in them the size of Rhode Island.

Those harnesses I thought would carry me safely to the front of the line?

Gone in the blink of eye as the wisps of smoke they were. (Even more disheartening to learn they were just mirages in the desert anyway.)

So I’m on my own… in a manner of speaking. We won’t be homeless and in the streets, but I’m going to have to show the universe how much I really want it by taking decisive action rather than use any supposed “shortcuts” that would ultimately keep my ego intact.

Now it’s time to decide what it is I really want, as well as what I can reasonably do to make these things happen.

The good news is I have more control than I realize. The first, best decision I can make is to release those expectations that have run their course.

In a few ways I didn’t predict, I’m going to have to start from scratch. Fortunately for me this is nothing new. I’m used to people scattering when the rubber meets the road and letting me down when I have come to depend on them. This just teaches me to make better choices in those people whom I choose to invest. I have really big dreams. And I only want the best people around me when I make them come true.

Truth be told, whether I move there or stay here these changes need to be made regardless. I haven’t been happy for a really long time. I’ve felt used and tossed aside and neglected and overlooked and manipulated and lied to. Now we cn add “fooled” to that, which is the worst offense of all.

But I guess I should’ve seen it coming. These patterns are not new, and God knows I’ve been grazed by the shrapnel these past many years. I could blame it on circumstances but it doesn’t change one very fundamental truth: I shouldn’t have to make someone respect me. I shouldn’t have to fight for attention or opportunity. If I’m going to be valued, truly valued, the way I deserve to be, these are things that should be a given for anyone who claims to care about me.

What’s more, I shouldn’t have to lower these reasonable expectations just because I’m supposed to feel “grateful” for meager crumbs that keep me towing the line. By relenting on these expectations I’ve given into that part of my brain trained to believe I don’t deserve better.

As long as I give in to that, I’ll never get better.

Above all that’s what I truly want with my whole heart… to be better.

Since I am moving to California to make things better then I have to make some tough decisions. I have to step out onto the tightrope whether there is a safety net or not, and throw off those harnesses that may only serve to strangle me and drag me back down to where I am now.

If I wanted things to stay the same, I’d just stay here.

And above all I know that’s what I DON’T want. It’s time for a change, succeed or fail.

And you wanna know something?

I don’t think it’s going to fail.

That may be the scariest thing of all. When you’re used to mediocrity success can be a frightening thing. It really is a step into the unknown, and I can never be fully prepared what to expect.

But I’m going to feel the fear and do it anyway.

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