It’s not about being fearless. It’s about having courage.

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I’ve got a new gig and the stakes are high.

People keep asking me if I’m scared? I’m terrified. But so what. The truth is I’ve been scared for a long time.

When I was deciding to quit my job last year, I was scared about everything. I was scared about never getting another job again, I was scared of never getting a job I liked, I was scared of not being able to make my mortgage for the month, I was scared about failing, I was scared of not being good enough, etc. But I quit.

When my dance teacher asked if I wanted to perform, I was scared that I could never have the energy and endurance that a performance demanded. I was scared of never being good enough for a performance. I was scared of failing. But I said yes.

And I’m scared with this new job.

When you make a change in your life, when you depart from your routine, when you take up a challenge, when you say goodbye to the tried and tested path, you enter a different portal. Not trying to get all ‘sci-fi’ey but I can’t think of any other way to describe it. You literally step into a rabbit-hole.

Uncertainty, doubt and fear are your constant companions. You are constantly choosing, making decisions (which let me tell you is exhausting and highly stressful. That’s why most people avoid it). There’s no guidance and no external validation. And about the latter, you only realize how much you relied on external validation to reassure you when it’s suddenly taken away from you. You are literally on a wing and prayer. It’s a solitary path.

There were so many times I kept hoping and praying for external support and strength but it never happened. You just learn to dig deeper and when you think you can’t do it anymore, you cry to friends and take a breather.

… And then dig deeper again.

The truth is we are all scared about something or another. And that’s fine.

The goal is not to be fearless. It’s about not letting your life be dictated primarily by fear.

It’s about living your life with courage. It’s about taking that step, saying yes even though your legs are shaking and your heart is literally palpitating.

Elizabeth Gilbert (yes, she of Eat, Pray, Love fame) recalls in her book Big Magic, the advice poet Jack Gilbert gave his students:

“Without bravery, their lives would remain small – far smaller than they probably wanted their lives to be.”

Because when you go down the rabbit-hole, it’s usually not what you expected. And yes, there’s fear, uncertainty and all those unpleasant sensations but all this opens up room for something else as well. Things that would never have come your way previously. Things which you never could have predicted or imagined. The old limits and boundaries you thought normal suddenly makes no sense. You are permanently enlarged.

I think you can only find your Wonderland when you fall down the rabbit hole.

Because it’s when you are challenged, when you dig deep, when you put yourself out there without the familiar rules and conventions, it’s only then when magic happens.

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