‘It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case you fail by default.’ (J K Rowling)
Being a perfectionist, kept me ‘safe’. It ensured that I didn’t ‘fail’, that there were no big embarrassing moments, it kept life neat and tidy and it ensured that I was always in control (except of course when I wasn’t, mostly because I was so tired of trying to control everything, even the uncontrollable). I was not only tired but was often angry and just plain petrified to let go and just be and let those I loved to just be.
‘Letting go’ and letting life get messy wasn’t ever something I considered. (I won’t bore you with the mountain of issues that brought me to that place / mindset). If I let go of control I might be found to be a fraud, I may lose that validation I craved from everyone around me for being good at everything, so organised, so … whatever… And how would I survive that?
And then … we began a crazy roller coaster of a year. First I ‘allowed’ Ben to take over the reins of an entire year of our lives. Giving up control was terrifying! 😱 But then I realised it wasn’t fear as such, because I trusted him to do the best for us, but it was an extreme discomfort because I’d never ever tried it on to see how ‘letting go’ fit on me.
Next was quitting our jobs (I loved my job and was great at it!), with no foreseeable income and with no real ‘plan’ in sight. The scariest thing for me at the time was trying to answer the questions people had – to say ‘we’re going to see what happens’. The words that came from my mouth were alien to me and I hardly recognised the person who spoke them. The growing pains during those months of preparation before we ‘jumped’ were difficult and fear riddled, and I’m thankful for Ben’s patience with me and repeatedly calming me down. But with practice it became easier to throw caution to the wind.
Starting something new and especially unknown was crazy and wild and exhilarating and so very uncontrollable. I learned over the months that I was more resilient than I’d given myself credit for. I was looking at the Unknown right in the eye and jumping straight in, day after day after day. Not that I don’t have my meltdown moments (mostly when old habits rear their unattractive heads wanting control back, fearing failure, needing to assert their will) but I get through it and grow a little more each time.
I find that the more I let go, the more joy I have, the more calm and less anxious I feel. Amazing opportunities keep coming our way, did they used to previously but I rejected them because of fear. I believe so.
Life has become something to look forward to, not to harshly beat back into a tiny box in the shape of fear. Now there’s no other way of living for me. Though I’m a planner and can’t get out of the habit of that so easily, I try to greet each day open minded, ready for whatever it brings, and because of that I have more joy, empathy and a more positive attitude. There’re moments where I feel like shrinking back to a life that was once safe and comfortable, and ‘risk-managed’ but I hope I never do.
Early this morning as the sun began to peek over the treetops, I plunged into the waves on a quiet Bali beach – something I would have never (!) done by myself 18 months ago (mostly because I can’t actually swim and …. so what if I drown in 2 feet of water and ….. die slowly alone …. 😳). As I floated I contemplated the plans I have made to join friends and snorkel with baby sharks; I realise just how far I have come.
Life is short. It is messy and emotional and a crazy roller coaster ride. But there’s no fun in living it cautiously, on the fringes of it, not getting our feet wet or our hands dirty.
So the goal is to be okay to be wrong as long as I’m being real.
‘You’ll never be ready and you don’t need to be. You just need to start.’ (Kristin Lohr)