Guest Post: The Fear of the Unknown (by my wife!)

December 13, 2012 — 14 Comments

Dan and J at Machu Picchu

If you subscribe and receive my posts to email, you’ve seen my occasional comments about my awesome wife. We’ve shied away from expanding on her career and goals on YLTL, but we have some big things coming up in the near future so you might hear more from her. I’ll leave it at that for now because we’ll get into more of it later…

Without further ado, here’s J:

Let me first say this post seem serendipitous. It was the result of a silly exchange between husband and wife. I’m currently building a web site featuring news content and videos as a professional journalist. When I asked Dan to review a couple of my recent posts, an audible chuckle drifted from his home office. “Uh, there’s a factual error in here,” he said. “Drew Brees didn’t throw five interceptions – that was last week. He only threw two yesterday.” I rolled my eyes and mumbled a whatever. “Then fix it,” I said with a wink. He baulked at the idea of tweaking my post and went on to ponder his topic for Break Free (shh, don’t tell him I let you in on a little secret – but stay tuned for something big). That’s when something came over me. Only half kidding, I slyly said, “I’ll write your post if you fix mine.” Most likely only half believing me, he responded with a simple yet sarcastic, “OK.”

So, here we are. I’ve been thinking about putting pen to paper so to speak for a long while – specifically writing about fear and failure. I’d much rather expound upon my fears on my own forum, but I’m now convinced there is no better time or place.

Fear is one of humanity’s strongest emotions. You experienced fear long before you can even remember. As I can only imagine, infants are fearful. At first, it may start out as a simple reaction to something startling or maybe infants experience anxiety while out of their parents loving arms. We know children are fearful, teens are fearful, and I think more so than anything else, adults are fearful. While the emotion may be the same, the reason for it is surely not. As a youth, you may fear a math test, be afraid of bullies or worry over what would happen if your parents knew what you were up to. While some of those fears – the fear of acceptance for example – follow us into adulthood, an adult’s fear is much different. I think our biggest fear is failure.

I’ve always been afraid. Afraid I won’t get that job I applied for – afraid they’ll laugh at my resume and lack of experience. Maybe the higher ups give a snarky laugh and think, “Does she really believe she’s good enough to work HERE?” Each story I write, I’m afraid I’ll make an error that will hurt the person or the organization it’s about. I’m afraid I’ll mispronounce something as simple as a word I don’t know and people will laugh.

Relatively speaking, those are all small fears I can overcome on a daily basis. Now, however, I’m faced with what seems to be an insurmountable fear – the fear of true failure – one that could change my life.

We’re faced now with an amazing opportunity. From the moment we starting talking about it – I was ecstatic. It’s truly the adventure of a lifetime as my husband and I plan to travel the world. It’s always been a dream of mine – I just didn’t know it was one we shared. I also never imagined it possible, financially speaking. But, my husband’s dedication to a strict and rather rigorous financial ideology has actually led us to act on what I only thought was a dream.

Sounds unbelievable, right? It’s something only a fool would pass up. But, it’s not as easy a decision as you might venture to think. I quit my job. I’m selling my house. Our overzealous and joyful pup, Lucy, will soon be the temporary property of family and friends. Everything I have worked toward will soon be something only from my past.

I know what you’re thinking right now, “Poor baby. Is she really complaining about an opportunity many dream of but only a few can act upon?” I know. I tell myself that too. But, each time I calm my nerves – the fear quickly creeps back inside. I ask myself time and time again, “What am I going to do when we return home?” Let me offer some perspective – we’re going to be without the home we’ve spent years building together, without the money we’ve saved and without jobs. We’ll be back at square one.

My parents always pushed me to do more, be more and achieve a position where I could help others. I have. I’m very proud of what I accomplished. It would be a lie if I said it was easy – the broadcast industry is anything but. It’s cutthroat, callous, laced with instability and therefore constant anxiety. With that being said, it’s also challenging, rewarding, impactful and a powerful public service. Information can lead to transformation in so many ways – a reason I do what I do each day. I believe I’ve found the career I want to dedicate my life to. It’s a passion – one that’s extremely hard to let go of, even if only for a year.

I’m afraid. I fear time spent outside my industry will lead to the end of my career. Yes, I do plan to write and report while traveling. In fact, I have the amazing opportunity to shine a light on issues around the world – the problem is, no one may listen. As I leave behind the power the airways offer, I’ll turn to the internet to try and make a difference. Still, it may not be enough.

Each day I drive home from work, I’m crippled by fear of leaving my life as I know it behind. I think of the great stories we brought to our viewers, the challenge we faced in deciding which news piece was most important or I simply recall the fun I had on air. I think of how I love the narrow, worn-down, pot hole-filled streets of New Orleans. I’m drawn back to the thought of how I admire many of the zany, bohemian, free-spirited people who embrace life here. I fast forward to the future and ponder what it will be like when I no longer drive down those streets, when I no longer stop and talk to those oh-so-interesting people, and I’m afraid.

I’ve always considered myself a bit of a free spirit, but at heart – I’m not. I’m a realist. I love the bit of reliability I have in my life.

My husband is loving the plan for an adventure – it’s a daring challenge in his mind. He’s a dreamer. I’ve always known it, I just never imagined how big his dreams are. It wasn’t long after we met that I knew he was destined for great things. He’s always wanted to start a company with the principle idea to help people and businesses succeed. One day, he will. However, for now it seems I’m faced each day with slew of his new ideas. He is much more eager than I to give it all up in pursuit of something more. Often times, his ideas give light to greatness – but generally those astounding thoughts lead to us taking a gigantic risk and giving up what we have worked so hard to achieve.

I trust him wholly. We will make it work. With that being said, it doesn’t take away the fear. I fear nothing will. But, where in life would we be if each time we succumbed to our fears? In all honesty, chances are we’d be exactly where we are now. We may be 100% fulfilled and more than happy in our current place, but ask yourself this: are you someone who will have the ever-present question, “Is there something more?” lingering in the back of your mind?

I’ve talked with Dan often about his ‘the grass is always greener’ mindset. I’m afraid his dreamer mentality will push us to give up the extraordinary life we already have for something that could ultimately fail. If I sound pessimistic, you may be right. But, pessimism is the face of fear and this time it won’t win. Despite my fears, I’ve agreed to take the bait, and I do so knowing that my faith lies in the belief that hard work and perseverance will pay off. If we don’t land back on our feet after a great adventure – we’ll eventually get there again someday.

And, hey – life is about experiences and memories anyway. So, let’s not let fear hold us back from what could be the greatest adventure of all.. living life to the fullest. Good luck!

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14 responses to Guest Post: The Fear of the Unknown (by my wife!)

  1. I see you live in NOLA. I love that town. It’s a favorite place to visit. since you guys are getting the SuperBowl this year, when I was there last month, they seem to fixing the Potholes.

  2. Fear of failure is the number one reason for so many people not reaching their dreams or going after what they want. You’re right, failure is one of the most powrful and ever consuming feelings we as humans are faced with and inveitably have to deal with on a day-to-day basis. I’m very jealous of those who have the highest confidence to not fear anything, including failure. But that quote from Mark Twain is true; “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. Do throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

  3. Dan could not be more right about this post building on the one I just published. Your desire to succeed has to be greater than your fear of failure. We face fear in some way and in some form almost daily. It’s how we deal with it that makes all the difference. It sounds like the 2 of you are about to embarq on a wonderful new adventure. I did not say it would be without fear. Nothing great comes from giving up in the face of fear. Everything great comes from facing your fear and succeeding in spite of it. I find myself jealous already and I don’t even know the plan yet. LOL

  4. yep–i understand why your fearful, but i’m with cheryl–ooooohh so jealous!! 🙂 I’m excited for the both of you and, really, i find it totally fitting. i don’t know you, J, but what i’ve gotten to know of Dan of of you through Dan, i know you two will make this work. And I commend you for doing this even in the face of fear. that’s courage. you will have a blast!!

  5. This was a very good post. My wife is quite often the inspiration of my posts but she has not been a guest blogger yet. I would love to have her do it one day. I do not fear it at all. Go ahead and face your fears!

  6. I admire your courage and am cheering you and Dan on in your adventure of a lifetime. It will change you, mold and hone you. You will be different as a result of the experiences you will encounter. The fact is, life is an adventure that we can seize hold off and live with gusto or hold at bay in fear of what may be. For me, your post is timely. I entered my own adventure of sorts two years ago. I left the comfort of my experience and the corporate world. I worked my finances to allow for that. It has been an adventure in all that it entails. Have I had self doubt? You bet! Have I gained from it? Absolutely!! Has been life changing? It has, in some very unexpected, happy and surprising ways. Would I do it again? In a heart beat. So I say to you. Live the dream, live it to the fullest and your life will take care of itself. 🙂

  7. keep her. What a great post. Good luck with your travels and embrace your fears.

  8. (To succumb to the corny side of things for a moment)

    Fear is nothing more than False Evidence Appearing Real.

    We so often become paralyzed with the possibilities we build in our minds that we forget how to live and really experience the world around us. Now is your time to step out beyond your inner visions, the demons of fear that keep you from really seeing the world you live in. I applaud you on the steps you are about to take to free yourself from the shackles that your fears had previously placed on your life.

  9. Fear is an emotion that can quite literally be paralyzing…however your desire to succeed will win in the end. Making drastic changes as you have discussed will always be an exciting challenge…sometimes good and sometimes not so good.

  10. I really relate to what you mention about liking the reliablity that is in your life, but when I look back on my life, the most rewarding changes have come from what I have feared the most. I think it’s a universal experience people have. We fret needlessly, dive in, and then weather the storm quite well.

  11. I’m very excited for you – the thrill of anticipation can feel overwhelming, but it adds to the experience. Every now and then you have to do something that absolutely terrifies you, otherwise you risk atrophy. You will be a better, stronger person for it and lucky that there are two of you in this amazing adventure!

  12. My daughter always tells me that LIFE begins where your COMFORT ZONE ends. Here is a chance to find out!

  13. J, you have to face those fearful feelings that you have head on. Whenever we face those fearful feelings head on, they have a way of just disappearing. Notice that I said feelings, because that’s what they are. It takes time to master the art, but the more you train you mind not to race out of control with a thought, the easier it is to master the fears that try to infiltrate your mind.

    Enjoy traveling the world.


  14. Yes, it is scary to take a world trip by using up all the money you saved. May be you are going to see the world in a different way. May be you take wonderful pictures and and make great travel stories, which will be a great hit. May be you will return to home without a single penny and homeless, but with an abundance of world experience. It is a fearful situation.

    In the coming months, my family income is really going to go down because of the drastic measures my husband’s company has to take. Yes, we are very sared. I am not sure, where we can cut the expenses, because we are already on a shoe string budget and everything is getting more expensive from grocery to bus fair. Even the Goodwill is increasing prices. I am scared that we may have debts…

    Is there any other way than facing the fears? I believe that the scary situations will bring the smartest solutions. I am pretty sure, You and Dan will find a way to overcome the fears.

    Goodluck with your amazing trip. I hope, you will continue posting on the blog about your journey.

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