The Day I stopped Being Afraid
By Chelsea Irvine
With misty eyes and a barely perceptible shake in my hands, I handed over my key to the office and carried out the last cardboard box filled with the personal items I have grown used to seeing everyday. Pictures of my dogs and my family; my favorite mouse pad; my just in case reserve protein shake mix; that stray bottle of Baileys that has been in my cabinet for I can’t even give a reasonable estimate as to how long.
Eight years. One cardboard box.
I said goodbye to my colleagues and walked out the door one final time, taking the first step into the complete unknown.
I put in my notice six weeks ago, after two long years of debating whether this was the right choice for my life, or a crazy idea bred from a frustration I should learn to live with.
I have great bosses, I enjoy my colleagues, I have a salary that affords me a lifestyle that is more than pleasant and benefits unrivaled by most companies. I have no commute and the freedom and resources to take vacations all over the world.
But in spending two years contemplating what makes me truly happy, deep down, I realized my career was leaving me wanting more. My work life was comfortable, yes. But the passion I felt eight years ago was fizzling. My passion had been replaced by a fear of turning my world on its head, and not knowing where my next paycheck would come from or how long I would wait to find out.
Do I let fear win? Or do I close my eyes, step off the ledge and trust that everything will, in fact, be alright?
This time, I decided, I would refuse to be afraid.
So, I quit. With no job on the horizon.
I had that hard conversation with the bosses I’d grown to regard as family explaining that, while I sincerely appreciate everything they’ve done for me and all the growing they’ve enabled me to do in the last eight years, it’s time for me to leave and find my future.
What I have learned in these weeks and months of soul-searching is that fear is an incredibly strong force in our lives and we often let our fear overcome our yearning for change.
I went through the same fear two years ago when I said goodbye to the relationship I was in for the better part of a decade. We didn’t fight, didn’t have problems and were comfortable. But we didn’t make each other better people. And we hadn’t for a while. We were comfortable. Comfortably stagnant.
While I knew my life would be turned upside down and I was scared of being on my own for the first time in my life, my heart knew it was the right decision.
Two years later, it’s clear that it was the right move for us both. I was right not to be guided by doubt. These have been two of the best years of my life. And he is content with someone else who makes him happy and does the things I wasn’t willing to do.
Turns out, when we get past our fears, the world is out there for us to conquer.
There is no perfect time to make a change. No sign on the road saying, “Yes, you’re making the right decision.” No 100% assurance your choice is going to work out.
Fear is a factor in all life decisions.
We fear changing careers. We fear moving away or choosing to stay put and buy a home. We fear if it’s the right time to get married. We fear if now is the perfect time to have a baby. We fear if we are making the right decision about whom and when to fall in love. We are afraid to admit when we have fallen out of love. We fear forgetting loved ones we’ve lost.
We fear leaving it all behind to follow our dreams.
Now is the time to let go of our fear. Embrace the fact that there is no perfect time, perfect scenario or unequivocal sign that we’re making the right choice. After all, nobody ever said they were glad they lived their life abiding by the status quo.
So here I am, cardboard box in my arms and my future just beyond view. As that office door closes one last time, I leave behind it my fear of what’s next. I take a deep breath and hope for the best.
One foot in front of the other.