I was talking with someone close to me recently, and she was telling me how she overheard a mutual friend asking, “So what’s Danny doing with his life? Is he like, going to get a job or something? Why isn’t he using his degree?”
Comments like this light up me insecurities.
“That’s a good question. What am I doing with my life? I’m spending all my money on psychology and business books, and alcohol. I spend my time working an at-home job and writing on my blog. Am I being lazy? Should I use my degree I just got?” are all questions that run through my head.
Maybe they’re right, maybe I should just get a job, use my degree, and leave my house for work everyday like the rest of my friends.
But then I get angry. Not angry at them, but angry at myself for being so soft. Fuck that. I don’t want to “use my degree” and I certainly don’t want to have to be somewhere everyday at a certain time. I want to use my books and my cocktails to make some shit happen.
I may be a lot of things, but being soft is not one of them. When I use to play sports, I didn’t add much speed on the basketball court but I could take a shot to the face and keep going. I took pride that my toe was as swollen as a golf ball and my iron facemark was indented because I took so many hits on the football field, but I kept going.
I’m proud of that.
But now that I’m facing some adversity and pain from my social circle judging what I’m doing, I’m just going to fold and quit trying? I’m going to stop trying to make an online business work because I get a little scared of the uncertainty of the future? That’s soft.
I love what Gary V said about entrepreneurs, and how my generation of entrepreneur is soft. It fires me up! I may not have have a lot of skills, but being raised in an Irish household, one thing my parents instilled in me was toughness.
#AskGaryVee – What’s the biggest mistake young entrepreneurs are making?
Posted by Gary Vaynerchuk on Sunday, April 26, 2015
My sister Jill sent me this text, and it inspired me to make moves.
So my call to you today is the same call to myself, quit playing scared. If people aren’t questioning what you’re doing with your life then you’re not doing it right. In a busy, attention-greedy world the only thing that stands out is authenticity.
I rock basketball shorts, drink Blue Moons, and write about improving the quality of life on the internet. That’s authentic.
A shirt and tie, a cubicle, and lunchtime office gossip is for others. Actually, I take that back. I may alternate my basketball shorts for a nice suit during the week because I do like to look fresh.
Make Fearlessness a Habit
The poet David Whyte says “Courage is that feeling you get when you’re standing on a surface that feels like it can’t hold you, but you stand there anyway.”
Fear is there. It will always be there. But doing your shit regardless is the definition of courage.
Exposure Therapy is a method used to kill anxiety and fear over a period of time. It’s repeated exposure to things you fear.
For me, it’s continuing to put my thoughts, ideas, and tactics out into the online space even though I fear judgment, failure, and embarrassing myself by saying something stupid. So I have to keep writing, keep making YouTube videos for 13 year old boys to troll on, and keep ignoring people who suggest I “use my degree.”
I recently heard a story about horses and Amish farmers that I really liked.
Horses have evolved to be scared of loud noises. It kept them safe in the wild. Loud noise = “Oh shit, something is going to eat me! Let’s bounce! Get Ralph, let’s go!”
So these Amish farmers would take their horses out by the highway for two hours a day, and let them sit there as the loud 18-wheelers rolled by. After about two weeks the horses stopped fearing loud noises altogether.
When you repeatedly expose yourself to things that scare you, and your mind sees that you haven’t been harmed the way you thought you would, it slowly begins not to fear those things.
Start slow, but start now.
If you’re scared to approach girls, try just approaching old ladies and asking for the time. If you’re scared of public speaking, start speaking just in front of your friends and family, or even your pet dog.
I previously wrote on why caring what people think is normal, and you should accept that you care. I believe that it’s normal to care, and you should accept it, and try to improve your social skills. However, when you continue to let other people shape the choices you make in your life, like I so often have, you’re playing scared.
So take a risk, fuck the naysayers, have a Blue Moon, don’t feel the need to “use your degree,” alternate basketball shorts with a fresh suit, and most importantly, quit playing scared.