Last year I left a secure path to pursue the authentic desires of my heart. The path first took me to Alaska, where I spent the summer living in a camper van and working as a barista. For the past few months I’ve been home and have unexpectedly felt the need to be quiet and listen in the space between beginnings.
Since returning, life has looked much different for me than it did in Alaska, both in my external environment and in my state of mind. I’ve been moving through many uncomfortable emotions and have spent time processing difficult thoughts and questions.
Not long after I returned, I visited with my mom about the fears and anxieties we were experiencing over recent decisions we had made—both of them had caused us to leave seemingly stable paths in pursuit of other, less secure dreams.
“Sometimes I lie awake at night wondering why the hell I did this and believing there’s no way it’ll ever work out,” she said.
I nodded in agreement. I, too, often caught my mind rummaging in bed after the darkness set in over frightening doubts about my choices and the stress of money.
“It’s like these are the darker sides of our decisions,” I told her.
They’re the valleys that connect the peaks, the moments in between the highlights, the less attractive parts that few people talk about. They’re the uphills, the middle-of-the-night-worries, the fog after a sunny day.
I thought back to a day in Alaska when I told a friend that when you take a leap, the universe will catch you. Now I don’t think that’s necessarily true. The world doesn’t owe us anything, and to expect it to save our fall every time we take a risk is to set ourselves up for deep disappointment.
Just as there will always be joy and growth along the path, there will also be trials and discomfort. You can’t leap only for the reward, because the award you expect might not ever arrive. You must leap simply for the experience of doing so–when your curiosity of the outcome outweighs your fear and you feel you have no choice but to jump without knowing what comes next.
Isn’t that the nature of the human experience, anyway? To merely live is to accept and surrender to the fact that we will always have to jump without ever knowing what will meet us, and then meet whatever arrives with acceptance and a willingness to learn.
As you move through a new year and look ahead to the opportunities before you (some of them known, some unknown) understand that even if you fall, even if you end up changing your mind, even if you expect it to turn out one way only to discover something totally different on the other side—do it anyway.