I have a relative who is not very good with English. Although she wants to learn more about social networks, she will not write on my facebook wall because people will laugh at her funny English. This is a very small example of what people are ready to miss in life because of their fears. The fear can be of public ridicule or of non-complicity with social norms or family expectations. We avoid trying so many things in life, fearing what will people say, what will our friends and acquaintances think, how will our loved ones take it. I would like to make a case against it.
Consider the option my relative has taken. You never do what other’s will find strange, you are always an invisible part of the crowd, you never stand out.
This is how you will teach your kids to live. You will talk with awe, about people like Bill Gates and Sachin Tendulkar from your drawing room, as if they are beings from some other planet. You will never live, you would merely have existed.
If you find such a life OK, the rest of this post is probably not for you. I hope you don’t complain you keep feeling listless, aimless and bored every now and then. If you have accepted this life, have the spine to accept it fully, embrace it completely and be happy with it.
For those who live the above life but feel something is amiss, I have a few questions I would like you to ask yourselves.
Is there even a tiny voice inside you, telling you that you were born to be much more? That you are stifling your potential in your current situation? Who is holding you here apart from your own beliefs? What is the worst that can happen? Is this a mortal risk? Don’t you have faith that if you fall, you can rise up again, laugh at yourself and move on, just as you did as a kid? Why do you expect so low from yourself? Why has a sense of adventure and fun become so threatening to you? Don’t conformity and compliance seem boring? Is the risk of trying now, more threatening, or the idea of spending your life in this slow drudgery, becoming more and more lifeless every passing day, more threatening?
You owe your self a miracle. Remember when you first learned how to ride a bike or to drive a car? You were scared, but your eagerness was far greater. It was risky, you could have fallen down, gotten into an accident. But you still did it. Most, if not all of your friends learned those skills. You felt like the whole world was at your feet. Impossible was nothing. Would you not have done it for fear of being laughed at?
Most of us stop learning once we get into jobs, get married, settle down. Consequently we start forgetting to try, to strive for new experiences, just for the fun of it. We get into the social role of a ‘responsible adult’. WHY? Why was it decided that it should be so? Why is it so important to comply to this image? Does it really make us happy?
I’ll urge you to be courageous enough to decide for yourself. To do the things you want to do. Don’t fear, don’t be shy. Do it, experience life fully, stand up and feel the wind in your hair, rather than sitting on the sidewalk, trying not to stand out.
You owe it to your loved ones to act as an example. Whereas following the trodden path might keep your loved ones feeling safe about you, you owe it to them to get them out of their comfort zone. If you really love them and you know they have limiting beliefs, you should find ways to get them out of the comfort of those beliefs. The best way to do this is to set an example. Go after your dreams, even if they don’t want you to. It might be rocky in the beginning, but it will get better and better after that. You can’t change them by just trying to talk sense into them. You cannot make anyone listen, but you can create an example that is hard to ignore or deny. Do them this favor. Instead of complying with their ideas and letting them continue to live with their restricting beliefs, have the courage to follow your heart against their will. You may become the source of some, short term trouble for them but you will be showing them how much further you, and they, can expand.
Learn to laugh at yourself. Afraid people will laugh at you? Well then learn to laugh with them, at yourself. Stop taking yourself too seriously. Anyhow, laughing is good for health. You will be learning valuable lessons along the way too. How cool is that! This is more powerful than it may seem. The ability to laugh at yourself takes away so much from the fear of failing in public. And this means not that you take yourself lightly. It means you have the heart to take failure in your stride. It means, the equanimity of your countenance will not be shaken by temporary defeat.
You will find your true friends. If people try to demotivate you, it is an indication of their own insecurities. This is a good opportunity to find out whose company to avoid and whose to keep. You will come to know who really means you well and who is really compatible with the new, courageous you.
New help will arrive. You will recognize the real folks who were, till now, hidden in the crowd or standing on the sidelines. Many times, there are real gems of people somewhere in our circles, who will not come closer until help is really required. You only discover them when you make the leap.
Only those will fall who dare to ride the horse. Those who stand on the ground can only laugh at the fallen horseman but they never learn horse riding themselves.