Everything you want is on the other side of fear
When I was a kid, I was fat. Until the age of 13-14, I was borderline obese. I grew up in a small village where I was the “fat poor kid”. I was the last pick for any sport, the kid others complained about when they were “stuck” with me on their team. You can imagine, I didn’t have many friends. In fact, this is not true; I had none. This is when I remember facing my first fear: being alone for the rest of my life. At the age of 9, I knew I wasn’t going to have any friends and the possibility of a wife was not even a topic that would cross my mind. Each day at school came with never-ending jokes about my weight and I was very careful with what I repeated or did. Most of the time, my actions were led by what others would think of them. I feared every move I made back then. What if I was going to give more ammunition to the haters? So most of time, I didn’t do anything.
This rough period lasted 4 years. At the age of 12, we moved to a small city (anything was better than this small village where all kids hated me!). I was literally shocked that other kids came to me and asked me if I wanted to be part of their group. I followed them, started to do sports and man I was sooo bad at it. However, these new friends were kind enough to always include me and helped me overcome the first big fear of my life; the fear of being judged. For the first time in my life, I allowed myself to do things without thinking what others would think of it. I allowed myself to be “me”.
Fast forward to the age of 15-16, I was now the first pick for every sport. I had plenty of friends and my first girlfriend was entering college. Everything I ever wanted was truly right behind my fears. I lost all my excess weight during high school simply because I didn’t mind if I wasn’t good at sports; I just did it because I enjoyed it. Same thing with my friends; I used to look down each time I crossed another child my age. During high school, I was going towards others and initiated conversations.
I’m now married to my high school girlfriend and have three beautiful kids. I can care less about others’ judgements now. In fact, I’m doing and saying whatever I want regardless if I’m in public, at my kids’ school or even at work. I don’t fear being judged and I stand behind my principles.
But then, other fears appeared
Since high school, I’ve been very at ease with who I am. I don’t fear other’s judgement and every day is an amazing day just because I woke up. But now that I started to do well, other fears started to appear. “Fear” is a weird beast. It’s not real, it’s only in our minds, but yet, it is one of the most powerful influences on our actions. Most of the time, it prevents us from doing what we really want. “Fear” is insidious as it transforms the most irrational thoughts into something very logical that makes a lot of sense.
For example, we all have been taught to work hard in school in order to get a good and “safe” job. I plead guilty of doing the same thing with my kids so I don’t judge. But when you think about it; this whole rationale is based on the fear of losing everything we own. Losing our job means losing our status in today’s society, it means potentially losing our home or lifestyle, it means judgment from others. In order to comfort ourselves, we were told that a strong education leads to a safe job. But if you really think about it; how something you have no control over (your job existence is not linked to anything you control) is safe? Having a “safe” job is really putting your destiny in someone else’s hands. How “safe” is that?
I’m not the kind of guy who will preach that you should quit your job tomorrow to live your dreams. I don’t have this pretention. And this is what I am going to do. When I discuss my project to leave everything behind for a 1 year trip across North and Central America (read about it here), people highlight their own fears which were mine not so long ago:
What will happen with your children education?
Answer: William only needs his 5th grade marks to register for high school and Amy averages over 90% in all her classes. School in the RV will be relatively easy as long as we focus on math and French. In the meantime, they will learn their history, geography as well as English and Spanish during this year. They will definitely know more than the average 4th and 6th grade kids.
What are you going to do with your job?
Answer: I work very hard and I’m very committed to my job. I asked for a 1 year sabbatical and obtained it. If you don’t ask for anything, you get what you asked for… nothing! In order to make sure I’m doing well, I also work nights on my online business. It’s only a matter of hustling!
What will happen if you don’t sell/rent your house? Are you leaving anyway?
Answer: I recently decided to keep my house and try to rent it. If it doesn’t work, I have a plan B. I’ll remortgage my house to get 25K equity in it. This is enough to cover the payments to keep my house for a year while I’m away. When I come back, I will owe 288K on a 360K house instead of owing 265K (which is my current situation). No big deal.
What if your online company doesn’t generate enough to pay for your trip? You will be broke!
Answer: Yes… this is a possibility. I have roughly 60K in my RRSP which I can withdraw, pay lots of taxes on it and still have enough to do my trip. But when you think about it, I’m making an amazing deal. Imagine you take 2 weeks vacations down south or overseas each year. You will need 26 years to enjoy what I will do next year. It’s like taking a HUGE advance on my future vacations. Will I live until I’m 60 to enjoy them? Can I enjoy 26 years of 2 weeks vacations with my children… NOPE! Therefore, even if I come back with $0 in my RRSP; I will still have a house with roughly 70K equity in it, a pension plan that is worth about 80-90K and I’ll be only 36… not too bad, huh?
Aren’t you afraid of getting hurt, robbed or getting sick during your trip?
Answer: These are the most common fears people highlight (this one and the children’s education). You know what? My cousin got a gun put on his head while he was in Montreal and got robbed. One of my daughter’s friend at school lost her sister (cancer) at the age of 7. Last year, I read a story about a young couple in their 30’s with 3 kids. The Dad died in March due to meningitis and the mother died 6 months later in a cycling accident (a car ran into her). I answer people: how safe is life anyways? My point is that I’m not going to run towards trouble, but life is made in a weird way that you can hit all of s**t no matter what you do.
Everything you want is on the other side of fear
As I mention to people when discussing my project; this is my way of living my dream and your dream doesn’t have to be like mine. What is important is to have dreams and do everything you can to make them real. Don’t let fear prevent you from doing amazing things. Life is short, you might as well enjoy it!