Twenty-Minute Twitter is a feature where I take Twitter conversations and somehow morph them into an entire post. The people I talk to on there are definitely inspiring and thought-provoking, and often we bring up topics that could use a larger format for exploration. Even though I tend to run a little wild with those topics, the body of the post usually only takes me around twenty minutes to write up!
Recently I had a Twitter conversation with Anya from On Starships and Dragonwings about our mutual love of fancy coffee, and disdain for the instant stuff. I was trying to talk her into setting up a suitable coffee station at her boyfriend’s for her visits over there, and she was sort of talking herself out of it due to intimidation of the fancy coffee machine. I handled this the way I usually handle any type of intimidation, especially when I’m trying to talk a friend into doing something that’s OBVIOUSLY good for increasing her quality of life. 😉
“Worst case scenario?” > Fill in the blank.< ”NO BIG DEAL, and here’s how you fix it.”
This got me thinking about how often we let intimidation get to us, and obstruct us from trying things we want to do. I’ve seen people let fear get the best of them and prevent them from so many adventures – things as small as picking up a thicker book than usual or trying their hand at some new crafty thing, and as big as moving to an unfamiliar area or starting an entirely new career. Now, full disclosure, I do still let intimidation for possibly unwanted outcomes get to the best of me at times. But usually it doesn’t take long for me to get over my silliness and move on with my plans. Does this mean I’m not afraid of anything? Definitely not! But it does mean when I want something, and I think it’s at all in my grasp to obtain or accomplish it, I don’t let negative thoughts get in the way of my trying. Sure, I might fail. But I might also succeed. And how much happier, more enriched, and more AWESOME will my life be after I accomplish whatever that thing is? Probably a lot.
Here’s what I want you to do. Pick something, any little thing, you’ve wanted to do but have been intimidated by for whatever reason. Think of the worst-case scenario that could happen, that’s preventing you from doing this thing, if you wish. Write down why you’re intimidated to do this thing… and destroy it. Seriously. Trash it, rip it up, draw hearts or smileys all over it, burn it, drench it in water, smear baby food all over it, or drop it in the fryer – but render it completely useless in some way. That’s what that intimidation is to you – useless. Worst-case scenarios may not always be fixable, but for the most part the ones holding us back are, and they’re inflated to a much larger proportion than we should be allowing them to be. You don’t necessarily have to go out and do this small thing after you trash that intimidation, but I bet you’d be happier if you did. Even if you just get rid of the negatives, you’ll be headed down a much more fulfilling road. You have way more power and control over your adventures than that puny fear ever will, and don’t you forget it. 😉
Fear’s a fucking killer, isn’t it? Stops you from doing the simplest stuff that’d make you happier.
— Patrick Ness (@Patrick_Ness) March 10, 2014
See that? Even Patrick Ness knows about fear and its consequences. You should listen to him. He’s good with words and things.
When I was considering whether or not to even publish this post (because it went in a completely different direction than I had intended), Kelley gave me that little extra push I needed to overcome *my* intimidation. I was worried it might be too… I don’t even know what, too out of the realm for our blog? That people would think I’m crazypants for writing it? That they might get a little offended at me telling them what to do? (Really it’s just a suggestion, but it’s for your own good! ;)) After a brief talk I decided to go live with it, because Kelley convinced me it can only do good for people that may need that little extra push – like she sometimes does, and like I did right at that moment. She also convinced me to share a list with you, of things I just *did* because I wanted to, regardless of the worst-case scenarios for them and regardless of the difficulty or intimidation tied to them.
- Started several different blogs, and when those all failed, started a book blog anyway. And then wrote a review on it. (Remember when I said reviews intimidate me?)
- Took up watercolor painting, when I’d never attempted it before and hadn’t painted in any manner in *twenty years.*
- Tried out different art techniques, some even involving homemade art products, I’d never tried before, knowing they could totally fudge up whatever I was working on.
- Moved across the country. Twice. By myself.
- Went to school for technology stuff, and quit working in that field so I could go to school for pastry and end up hating it. Now I’m going to school for art & design. Lot of career changes, lot of risk involved. But I’m pursuing (and finding out at the same time) what makes me happy.
- Loved. People, things, and places. Both noncommittally and with my whole heart.
- Learned how to put together and take apart furniture, and computers. I’m pretty handy when it comes time to set up a new house, now.
- Bought a real Christmas tree for the first time ever, not realizing what a MESS those things make.
- Adopted a kitten.
- Shared my life with people on the internet I may or may not ever meet.
- Learned how to use kitchen equipment with lots of buttons on it. (*nudge Anya* ;))
Of course that list could go on and on, but I think you get the point now. Some of those things are pretty big, and caused me some anxiety, heartbreak, and homesickness. Some of them are small and still caused me anxiety. I may not have been as good at some of those things as I would like, or had them work out the way I was hoping, but I still learned something from every single experience. I certainly learned an amazing amount more than I would have, had I never gone after those things in the first place. All the roads we choose to take lead us to where we are, regardless of the outcome. Your life truly is a choose-your-adventure book.
Do you remember those? They were AWESOME! And even when they ended badly I would just pick another path and continue on. Because, you know, your life isn’t over just because a choice didn’t work out, or take you directly to the castle at the center of the maze, make you rich and famous, or give you love everlasting. But I can guarantee you that it did teach you something about yourself, whether it was how to refine your decision-making process, or to show you that you’re stronger and more capable than you previously believed.