Years ago I went skydiving with my sister. It was my first time. Though, if you were judging by my level of excitement you would have thought it was my 57th jump.
The hours before we boarded the plane seemed endless. An hour and a half long class to prepare, an hour to get suited, another hour or two loitering around the hanger. I was itching to go.
Finally, they called our names and said it was time to take off. It was a beautiful fall day, clear skies and crisp air.
Everything in me was sunshine and positivity. That is,until we hit 8,000 feet and they opened the plane’s door. In that moment, my eagerness evaporated and was replaced by panic.
Before I could blink people were hopping out of the plane like popcorn from an air-popper. Sitting on the floor of the plane, the instructor strapped to my back, we started to scoot towards the open door.
All I knew in that moment was I did not want to go through that door.
I remember jabbing my heels in the bed of the plane to stop us, but my instructor wasn’t having it.
In a last minute ditch effort, I turned around and pleaded, ‘I don’t want to go, please don’t make me go.’ With a matter of fact shake of his head he mouthed ‘we’re going’ and before I knew it we were flying out the door.
The first few moments of the jump I was horrified.
However, more quickly than I would have imagined during my forced butt shuffle to the door, my horror turned to relief — then JOY.
That 60 second freefall was one of the most glorious things I’ve ever done. By the time I landed wanted to go again.
A massive change from someone just 5 minutes prior would have paid any amount of money not to jump.
“The first step is always the hardest to take” — unknown
We’ve all heard this quote a thousand times. It’s been repeated and retweeted ad nauseum. It’s decently truthful but it’s a bit misleading.
It suggests when you’re contemplating taking a big jump in life: branching out on your own, changing a bad habit, starting a business, a new city, a new relationship, that all you have to concern yourself with is taking that initial move. Then magically everything thereafter will be much easier.
Having gone through the process of leaving the corporate world to pursue my passions I can tell you the first step is not always the hardest.
To give people a more realistic view of what taking a leap of faith is really like — I propose we round out the quote with the addition below:
The first step is always the hardest to take…the 2nd, 3rd, and 17th are pretty damn hard too’
The truth is, since deciding I would finally take that first step — each step since has been “the hardest”.
In fact, retrospectively, the first was a cake walk.
Deciding to leave my corporate job, just like enthusiastically deciding to go skydiving on a whim, was easy — comparatively.
Leaving the corporate world behind was a decision that had been brimming for so many years that, when it was finally upon me, taking the first step didn’t seem all that scary.
Nervous and excited anticipation certainly, though not what I would call hard. It seemed quite organic that the time was now — so I jumped.
What I wasn’t expecting was for the euphoric feelings of jumping to be joined so quickly with uneasy feelings of unfettered fear.
I wish I had been more prepared for the mental tests that come along with such a change. At any point in time there is a cavalcade of opposing thoughts running through my head:
I’m thrilled, I’m scared out of my mind.
I feel bold, I fear the unknown.
I feel focused, I’m disjointed
I feel free, I feel like a fledgling greenhorn.
I trust only greatness will come, ‘This is gonna work right?’
The ping pong of emotions you might go through goes on and on. The ‘The first step is the hardest’ quote doesn’t quite prepare you for the dark side of jumping.
Nor are these inconvenient waverings not included in the 5 to 7 step roadmaps we see amongst the self-help section of the bookstore or within the daily postings of ZenWonderful. (Disclosure: ZenWonderful is not a real site. I checked. It sent me to godaddy.com — though frankly not a bad name for a website).
The worries about how you’re going to pay the bills, reduction in sleep, feelings of inadequacies, the cynics… and the nausea.
These aren’t exactly happy topics to include when you’re encouraging someone to do whatever they must to find their purpose and follow it.
I would still 100% recommend taking the leap. Because the good far outweighs the bad.
The important thing for you to understand is that fear, whenever it shows up, is just another part of the beautiful puzzle. It is not something you should shy away from or look upon as a signal for you to back down. It is 100% there to serve you and your dreams.
Everything that happens after you take that first step is determined by what you do with those fears when they show up — because they will.
Remember back to the last time you felt fearful of something — a big presentation, a first date, speaking in public, sharing something personal with others?
Now remember how you felt after you pushed through the fear and did it anyway? 9 out of 10 times pushing through fears leaves us feeling more empowered, happier and even more assured in our pursuits.
9 out of 10 times pushing through fears leaves us feeling more empowered, happier and even more assured in our pursuits. Because of the fear, not in spite of it, we feel prouder of ourselves, and our capabilities, for not giving up.
What if I fall, but oh my darling what if you fly?
— Erin Hanson
That’s what taking chances is all about. At first, it might be incredibly uncomfortable and scary. You’re going to feel like you don’t know how you got yourself into this mess, and perhaps you should back out. You’ll question the direction you’re going, if you’re doing it right, if you have any right to be doing it in the first place.
Push past the noise, take a break, change the mood like I offer in this a previous post, and trust that those feelings will be replaced by more joyful and confident ones, as you continue to navigate your way. Persevering through each step after the first is what will bring you what you are looking for.
Successful people keep going when everyone else gives up.
So what if you don’t how to drive traffic to your blogs, or how to put together a business plan, or what the hell an SEO is — right now. Do the work you love and everything you need will come to you when you need it.
No matter what negative thoughts are coursing through your mind keep asking yourself what is the more profound feeling — your need to create something bigger for your life or your fear of doing what you have to do to get there?
If it is the former then let go, breathe and jump.
Thank you for taking the time to read my letter. If you enjoyed it please click the ❤ and recommend buttons.
You can find more of my quest to live my purpose and help others do the same here at Jennie Aberle
Originally published at medium.com