On Feeling Intimidated By My Own Dreams

Quote by Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, First Female President of Liberia (read her Harvard ’11 speech here) | Images via YoutubeKateOGroup – Etsy

It seems I’ve been surrounded by achievements lately. The Forbes 30 under 30 list came out; Issa Rae (creator of Awkward Black Girl and Insecure) was nominated for a Golden Globe Award. Instagram and Youtube are full of people who are living seemingly glamorous lives by pursuing their passions, like Shirley B. Eniang, Shameless Maya, and Patricia Bright. My favourite bloggers, like Style Domination, are blowing up. I love to see them all. Seeing people accomplishing their dreams makes me happy and leaves me feeling inspired.

Sometimes, fortunately or unfortunately, I’m also prompted to feel that I need to hurry up with achieving my own dreams. As I approach being two years out of undergrad, my 24th birthday, and not being where I want to be yet, I’ve been wondering lately whether I’m wasting time.

Tonight, after reading about people who are doing things with their lives–teachers, lawyers, writers,and  founders of amazing social movements/organizations like Pretty Big and Travel Noire, I started to wonder whether I should get up, go out and get to work on a  passion of mine too. Live BIG. Magically get a high paying job. Be able to go on vacations and have an interesting Instagram page. All of that.

But after a few minutes of reflecting somewhat anxiously on the life I could and maybe should be having, I started to realize that I’m already on the path working towards what I want. I’m already taking steps in following my passion. It just isn’t glamorous right now.

There are many days when I find myself worrying about whether I will succeed, many days when I find myself feeling anxious about how much time it will take me to get to where I want to be, and many days when I have to fight myself to have self-confidence.

One thing that has been floating around in my head lately has been entrepreneur & media personality Tai Beauchamp’s HerAgenda interview. Speaking of her pursuit of success, she said, “I decided probably about six or seven years [ago] I would just have to become really good friends with fear.”

One experience I didn’t realize I would have in pursuing my dream career was feeling uncomfortable a lot.

It is not so much the hard work, nor the pressure of trying to succeed that makes me most uncomfortable, although they certainly bother me at times. It is the fact that I am often face-to-face with myself and all the nagging self-doubts, self-imposed limitations, and bad habits that I had silently acquired (and gotten away with) over the years. The work of trying to overcome these things is tremendous.

The lack of self-confidence has been the worst offender lately and is also somewhat of a surprise. Insecurities I thought I had dealt with years ago are suddenly resurfacing now that I’m no longer in my comfort zone. It seems that every time I try to take another step forward, a little voice always seems to tell me that I can’t do it, that it’s too much for me, and that I’ve reached the limits of my capabilities. Those are the times when I need to pray for courage and faith, stop thinking so much, put my head down and just get to work.

“Make friends with fear” is a welcome mantra for me as I go into this new year. If I choose to, I can put a significant dent in achieving the things I need to do to move forward. I can put myself out there more so that I can have the relationships I want. But I have to choose to. I can’t wait around.

I always thought that I had to do things when I felt ready (read: comfortable), but I see now that there are times when I just need to jump in, discomfort and all.

One thing that I am learning from all this is to enjoy the journey. This week, I read a post by TipsByTee on a similar topic that really touched me. They aptly write, “I use to feel that maybe if, I had did this back then or if I had done that and now I realize that my life has always been on course for me and, I am at peace with that.”

Personally, I used to think that the path to my career of choice was simply a means to an end with no real value of its own. Now, I see that I should value each moment of it: the times I can spend chatting with my friends in a coffee shop as well as the times I spend hours learning to master something new. They are all part of the path leading to where God intends me to be.

I am realizing that trying to get to where I’m going does not preclude a full life–rather, it is an opportunity to start building the life that I have always wanted for myself–life won’t stop just because I’m trying to pursue a particular path.

A few years ago, I read a forum post in which someone wisely said that “your 20s are for building.” At the time, I took that to mean building a career and financial stability, but I see now that it also means building faith, relationships, community, a sense of self, and other things that are important to me in having a fulfilling life.

When I am feeling overwhelmed and down, I often stop to think about the fact that  I am pursuing a dream. For someone like myself who has always dreamed big dreams but was too insecure to follow them, this is a huge accomplishment for me and a major source of happiness. And for that, I am thankful to God. I would not have the strength to do this without Him.

I wish you luck on your journeys too, and I’d love to hear about them in the comments.

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