Growth in many ways is a very uncomfortable feeling. The things that make us better are often the very things we don’t want to do. Often, it’s our fear of failure that holds us back from participating in the challenges that will provide us the opportunity to grow into the people we want to become.
(Insert obvious parallels to training and self-help clichés)
The fact I’m writing this post is a testament to overcoming some of my own fears. It’s only been in the last 6 months that I’ve began to write blog posts. Long before that, I had ideas and intentions to write, but my fear of failure held me back. It all started about 6 years ago, I bought two domains for an e-portfolio that I put together for an undergrad project – which has evolved over time to what you see now.
Just as my work continues to evolve, whether it be online or in the real world, I’ve continued to evolve as a person as well.
Yeah, I know that sounds like some millennial crap, but everyone fights battles that you can’t see – and I truly understand what that means now. I’ve had my share of bumps over the last 18 months, but I’ve been fortunate to enjoy many memorable moments as well – like deciding to move to Vancouver and go back to school.
Since (thankfully) getting rejected to graduate school after completing my undergrad, I’ve long wrestled with the idea of returning down that road. After countless conversations with mentors and colleagues, I acknowledged that deep down in my heart I wanted the challenge. However, as time went on, finding the right fit for a graduate degree became increasingly difficult.
It wasn’t until last December that I stumbled across UBC’s Masters of Kinesiology program. A year later, and I’m here living out everything I wished for.
It’s remarkable how much your life could change in as little as 18 months…
It’s taken me more than three months to write about settling into my new surroundings on the West Coast. Although I’m still doing the work I love to do, almost everything else in my life has changed. I left my job, my family - I even sold my car and gym equipment! – to move across the country and go back to school in a city where I knew a single person (who moved away 2 weeks later).
Why did I decide to do that?
Well, I recognized that for me to evolve into the person I want to be would require some big changes. To sum up my disposition, I will quote Albert Einstein who put it simply - “Once we accept our limits, we go beyond them”.
There is an element of self-awareness that is critical in understanding your limits. Keeping a journal has really helped. Over time, I started to notice trends and thought patterns. Becoming a more reflective person doesn’t always make things clearer. You begin to ask yourself existential questions that you may not have answers for, which can be quite unsettling.
Part of what makes this process unsettling is the realization that you needed to go beyond those limits that you’ve now accepted. There is a sense of fear that emerges.
I can remember that moment clearly.
I was about 30 minutes into my quarterly float session when it hit me. After I’d cleared my mind through a series of meditations, I said to myself “So…you’re moving to Vancouver?”.
Immediately, I felt a rush of energy swoop over my entire body. It seemed to stay in my chest, making it nearly impossible to continue my meditative breathing. Here I am, floating in a sensory deprivation tank, having an encounter with anxiety for the first time in my life. It was as if the subconscious fear that I had been harbouring for months attacked and began strangling my will.
When I clued in to what was happening, I began drawing long deep breaths. I was prepared.
If the uncomfortable feeling of growth could be distilled into a single moment, that was it. I may have made the decision to literally step outside my comfort zone by moving out West months prior to the float, but it wasn’t until that moment that I was able to truly dissolve my fear and step forward.
Circling back to my thesis, overcoming these uncomfortable moments allows us to reach closer for the challenges that will allow us to grow. Although I’m only a few months into this journey that I’ve embarked on, it’s been overwhelmingly positive.
During the weeks I spent working on this blog post, I began reading an insightful productivity book, The One Thing. I finished both the book and this blog post just a few days ago on my flight back to Vancouver on New Year’s Eve. In serendipitous fashion, I came across this quote in the final chapters that perfectly captures the realization I’ve had in the last few months.
“There is an idea that we find ourselves but really, we create ourselves” – George Bernard Shaw.
Are you accepting the challenges that will allow you to grow into the person you want to be? If not, what’s holding you back? I’d love to hear your story. Please share in the comments below, or email me to continue the conversation - firstname.lastname@example.org