What Would We Do if We Weren’t Afraid?

It seems there’s a movement going on that is pushing people to take risks and prioritize for their own happiness. Folks are changing jobs, opening their own businesses, and moving to new places to start over and find joy. I don’t know if this is happening just to people in my circle or if it’s a larger trend, but the word has been that the slow economy has held people captive in jobs they don’t enjoy for long enough and they’re ready to take a risk and move on. I would like to join this movement.

For three years, I’ve worked in a job I don’t enjoy, in a state I don’t want to live in. When I think about why I’ve stayed, it’s been about a guy, money, the fear of picking up and finding a new job in a tight economy, and the realization that I’m getting close to 30 and I don’t want to have to buy yet another set of dishes (or admit that I don’t really have roots). If I could do anything that’s at least somewhat practical and doesn’t require expatriation, I would go back to Boston and take my life back. But I haven’t yet. Because I’m scared.

Four years ago, almost to the day, I moved away from Boston broke, cold, and defeated. I quit my job by accident* and didn’t have anything to fall back on; temp-work is great, but it’s hard to pay the bills that way when there are student loans and high rent. I guess you could say I couldn’t hack it; I failed. I moved back across the country to my home state and have regretted it ever since; I really don’t enjoy it when I run into people from high school. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve said “when I lived in Boston,” annoying absolutely everyone, I would be able to take that pile of money and fund the move.

I know people will argue that our demons follow us everywhere; I’m fairly certain that mine are just as tired of moving as I am, but I think they liked Boston. At least they mostly left me alone while we lived there. I felt like I was home, or at least closer to it than I am now; I had a life that I was in control of (except for that job thing) and felt proud and whole and strong. Last week I visited Boston for the first time since I moved away and it was magical to be back on the East Coast with friends who haven’t forgotten me and still love my quirks. There really is something about being in synch with the city around you and knowing that you belong there; it’s an unmistakable feeling.

One of my favorite people in Boston and my former yoga teacher quoted Bikram Choudhury (the founder of Bikram Yoga and an interesting character all around) by saying “if you have your feet in two boats, you go nowhere and you split your ass” when we were talking about the possibility that I may be moving back. He followed that up with, “come on Westcoast, don’t be a chicken shit” (I miss these people more than they could ever know). I believe he has a point.

Because I don’t want fear to completely stunt my life progress, I’m going to put both feet in my Boston boat and see what happens. It’s the New Year after all and people always get crazy ideas around this time, so I’ll have something to blame it on if I fuck it all up and end up destitute.

So, dear readers, is there anything you’re not doing because you’re afraid? Or have you made a big life change lately that has been positive and all that you’d hoped? Share your stories!

*It’s generally considered a bad practice to tell your less than loyal employer that you’re not really happy doing what you’re doing and you’d like to start looking for other employment. What I thought was fair and considerate was actually my unintended two-week’s notice.


17 replies on “What Would We Do if We Weren’t Afraid?”

I think I mostly have been doing what I’d do if I weren’t afraid, sort of. I graduated with my master’s in June and had started my job search 4 months earlier – I was willing to move anywhere and I applied to everything I could find, including extremely-long-shot jobs I knew I didn’t have much chance of getting, like research positions with the Guttmacher Institute (ugh, dream job). Finally, in August, I got a spot in a 10-month AmeriCorps program, but other than that, my attempt to be fearless and take charge of my professional life was completely fruitless.

The only thing I can think of that I’m not doing that I’d like to be doing is teaching Zumba – I’ve contemplated doing the training and becoming an instructor for a few years because I think it’s so much fun and I love to dance, and I’ve always decided against it because I wouldn’t be guaranteed a job and might spend money on the training for nothing. So come June, when my term of service ends, we’ll see if I’m fearless enough to finally do it. :)

I am in the process of thinking about this same thing–about to graduate with my masters and I’m looking for a job anywhere that doesn’t get hotter than here in the summers. Mr. Hooray wants to move back to Alaska, but I can’t imagine living in a town with no roads out and he already knows many people around our age. I guess I feel pretty adrift.

If I were less scared, I’d move into the city and look for a job that actually makes me happy vs. one that just pays the bills (of which I have neither, just a part-timer who lives with her parents). I’d start my own life. I’m about to turn 23 and I hope this year will bring so many changes.

if i had that carefree, whimsical spirit required for impulsive decisions, i’d fuck the job i’ve got here in boston and move to nyc. i am not doing that, though, because i am afraid of going broke and having to move back in with my parents.

on a smaller scale, i really want to join a gym and take boxing classes (legit boxing, not cardio kickboxing), but i’m too chicken.

I’ve been too afraid to travel.  I’ve missed a lot of opportunities over the years because of that fear, like a trip to China.

On a lesser note I’ve been too afraid to do the body modifications I’ve wanted since I was young, like lip piercings, because they’re not seen as professional.  Sometimes, this world we live in *shakes head*

I want to move away from LA, but mom is getting older and as much as she insists I “got live your life: don’t worry about me” I still worry about her. I think it’s just an excuse I use to not take a risk. Plus, where would I move to? Move back to NYC/Brooklyn? DC? Chicago? Atlanta? Boston’s been calling my name…. I just don’t know. I know I DO need to move SOMEWHERE. And soon.

When I lost my job in Oct. 2010, I decided it was the universe’s way of telling me it was time to go back to school, something I’d been talking about for years.

I’m not going to say it’s been easy or that I haven’t been scared and felt like I’ve bottomed out, but at the end of the day, I’m looking forward to my future. That hadn’t been the case for the past five years…so much that I almost ensured that there would be no future for me, no anything for that matter.

So, even though I have no job, my unemployment insurance got cut off, and things are more than a little scary right now, I’m happier with this choice than I’ve been any for a long time. And that, in and of itself, makes me believe I made the right decision.

It took me two goes to get to where I am today. After Uni, my partner and I moved to the big city in the South Island to start post Uni life. I was finishing up a course I needed to do for Admission to the Bar, he was managing a camping store.

Then it all literally fell down around us. The city was hit by a fucking huge earthquake that killed nearly 190 people. We were lucky, our house was fine, we weren’t injured but Mr Cesy’s job was gone and my course had to be finished in another city.

We moved back to his parent’s place for 3 months. Originally our plan had been to stay in the South Island (our families were there, Mr Cesy had a very ill brother) but we knew we couldn’t be that picky any more. We applied for dozens of jobs. Eventually I was offered one up on the East Coast of the North Island. It was an area I had family in, so we decided to go.

We moved here, and within 24 hours Mr Cesy had a job and we had a house. We’ve been here 7 months now. It was a big step to move here, so far from where we’d grown up and studied, but I love it. We’ve somehow managed to find ourselves a little South Island community, and in a strange coincidence, a friend who I went through high school and law school with is moving here in 2.5 weeks. So for now, this is home, and I’m glad we made the choice to come here.

If I were braver and less practical, I’d pick up and move to NYC. Or anywhere that’s not here, really. But I’m not that brave, and I also can’t justify moving anywhere until/unless I know I’ll have a job there.

I’m determined to make a move in 2012, though, even if it’s just out of my parents’ and into my own place in the same city.

I love NYC and it was one of my favorite things about living in Boston; we used to take the Fung Wah (shady as hell) bus there for the day and walk around. It has its own breed of magic that is really enchanting. I also happen to think that people who are more practical than me make the world go around, which I appreciate. I hope you find a place soon :)!

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