Fear is a funny thing.
It’s kept me from writing this blog post for the past three months. It’s what made my palms sweat, my eyes tear up and my heart race the first time I jumped out of an airplane (ok, maybe fear is an ok response in that case!) And it’s what kept me in stifling job roles that drained my soul and my passions for way too long.
Rewind three months ago and I was your average 26 year old with a graduate degree and a desire to do something with my life that had meaning and made me come alive. My entire academic career I thought I would find that ‘alive’ feeling in the workplace – in communications, marketing, helping clients achieve their goals, getting a steady paycheck and the ‘prestige’ of succeeding in a corporate job and rising in the ranks so to speak.
My real life experience was a very different, and sobering, story instead. What I thought I felt passionate about made me feel lifeless. What I had previously prioritized and glorified felt empty and pointless. And what I thought would lift me up, energize me, excite me and answer that question of “Am I good enough?”, I had no desire to pursue or excel at.
My four year stint in the corporate world was disappointing, frustrating and soul sucking to say the least…yet, I felt like it was something I couldn’t say no to. When the whole world expects a college graduate with a Masters degree to do the 9-5, decorate your cubicle with glee and climb the corporate ladder who was I to say that I was worthy of anything different? Why was I so special to want anything else that made me feel like I was doing what was needed, that I was good at and that made me feel invigorated and rejuvenated instead of like a once vibrant but withering plant? I felt like chasing dreams and actually doing something with meaning and significance that I enjoyed was reserved for only a “chosen few.” Now I know that’s just not TRUE. Not for me and not for you either.
This might seem dramatic but I think there is something deep and profound about the work we do and how we spend our days. I just attended Justin and Mary’s The Event and every single speaker blew me away. One said something that stuck with me “How you spend your days is how you will spend your life.” Working in marketing at a job that I was indifferent about, with clients whose visions didn’t set me on fire, made me realize I was spending my days in ways that were, and would continue to, ultimately shape my life.
It wasn’t just a job to make money and pass the time – it was dictating my purpose, my priorities and my future.
So I quit.
It wasn’t an easy “see you later team!” kind of quitting and it wasn’t an easy decision. Despite my strong feelings about where my purpose and passion lay (i.e. NOT with corporate work) fear had sunk its claws into me and I couldn’t seem to shake them. What if I couldn’t make enough money doing photography? What if everyone stopped booking me? What if I regretted my decision? What if I sucked at working from home and I spent the rest of my life in yoga pants with unkempt hair? (this fear is semi-true actually) What if, just what if, I’m not _________ enough to succeed on my own?
I was so close to letting fear have the final say and shutting the door on the people and projects and purpose that I felt like God had placed on my heart – and that thought is terrifying! Being on your own and doing your own thing isn’t easy…but it’s more purpose-filled and life-giving (for me personally) that any other work situation I’ve been in.
Maybe your passion and place in the world IS in an office at a corporate job. And that’s awesome! But if it’s not and you feel yourself longing for something more or something different, I encourage you to not let the darkness of fear overshadow the light of your visions and dreams. I truly believe God created each of us to fill a very unique role in this world, and to fill it well with passion and full engagement. What are you leaving on the table by letting fear of the unknown or fear of your own perceived inadequacy rule you? It could be joy, fulfillment, life balance or impacting others, but whatever it is, I know now that anything chosen because of fear is not of God and is not the best that he has for you or your life.
*feature image photo credit goes to Abby Grace Photography