A couple of weeks ago, my brother quit his 9-5 job and is now backpacking through Europe with four of his best friends. Initially, your first question is ‘WHAT?’ Then you overanalyze the finances of it all, the instability, and the uncertainty of what is to come when he arrives back home.
Eventually the dust settled, and it got me thinking. Collectively as humans, we worry far too much—I’m guilty of it, and so are you. We talk ourselves out of something that isn’t day-to-day routine, because of bills, family, time. Doesn’t matter what it is, because we somehow find a way.
But, why? What is stopping us from quitting the jobs that we hate and finding new inspiration, or chasing those dreams we’ve always had?
Society defines us even if we don’t want it to. If you want to sell smoothies on a beach somewhere for the rest of your life, you have no real ambition. If you can’t find a job the second you leave college, you’re not smart enough. Don’t have time during the day to watch a movie at night with your kids? Bad mother.
But what happens when the person who is selling smoothies is doing exactly what he has always wanted to do? Or the kid who just became a postgrad is trying to find their way in this big, scary world? The mother—what if she has a badass career, juggling far too many things, and can only do so much as a human to balance it all?
We don’t give each other enough credit. We assume, without knowing the details. It’s because that is what we’ve always done. Your grandparents, parents, co-workers and friends—you’re surrounded by people who support you, but also keep your feet on the ground. While stability is never a bad thing, it means that little to no risks are being made. We are trained to be afraid of what is to follow, even if you convince yourself otherwise.
Will you fall, or will you fly? Nobody knows. But whatever result, there is something to take from it. There is always a certain beauty that can only be seen from falling and flying—you are weightless, you are scared, but you’re more alive than ever.
You’re never going to not learn anything after taking a leap of faith. Without saying ‘yes’ to things that make your stomach turn, you’ll always be still. Stagnant. Live day in and day out the same each and every time. In 80 + years, when you reflect on your greatest accomplishments and your biggest regrets, you’re not going to want to have the latter outshine the other.
So take a step back. From your job, the relationships, the crippling loans, the fear. Are you happy with where you are, or do you need something more? Are you in your passion, or do you need to go find it?
I think we can all learn a lesson from my brother, or from everyone who has ever leaped and flied. Don’t settle, don’t hold back—and never forget to live.