I was taught early on that I must be responsible for myself without being a burden to anyone else. It was imperative that I be a self-reliant adult. So I grew up making a lot of safe choices towards the goal of economic security. Instead of pursuing the dream of going to art school, I went to a traditional liberal arts college and then went into finance.
Ingrained habits and ways of thinking are hard to change. I continue to be risk-averse. On the golf course recently, I was faced with a shot that was 133 yards across the water to the green. Another option was to play it safe with two shots on the fairway, dog-leg left. I allowed myself the luxury to play both ways. Of course, I first hit my safety shot. After it landed exactly where I aimed, I hit the most awesome shot across the water that stopped only two feet from the pin. During my swing my mind was clear, there was nothing to lose. The backup shot was already lying there in perfect position. I felt safe, and was able to accomplish the prize shot, straight at my target despite the obstacle between us.
When I think back of the challenges I faced in the past and the things that gave me anxiety, I realize that they are forgotten, and the wisdoms I learned have been fully integrated. My younger self's imagination of how my current life would be, missed the mark. I could never have conceived of my life as it actually is today. I am married with children -- that much is accurate, but the particulars are not. Where I live, how I spend my days, and who my friends are differ from what I anticipated. In hindsight, perhaps I could have taken more risks. I could have chosen to reach for the stars.
I have found that the journey to your destination may not be a straight shot, yet the experiences along the way are perfectly valuable. Making mistakes and changing course are simply a part of life. Failures are learned lessons in our personal evolution, as opposed to shameful or humiliating events that we endure. Our daily life decisions normally revolve around several reasonable choices, so the consequences of our mistakes are not severe. It is time to embrace that our decisions lead to the best possible outcomes instead of dead ends.
In fact, go further and truly believe in yourself. Renovate your comfort zone by taking care of yourself first and foremost. Prioritizing your wellbeing allows you to optimize your existence and create a thriving life. When you are nurtured and safe, bigger things are possible. Reach inward to discover what you really need to flourish, what comes naturally to you, and also what makes you struggle. Sleep more. Laugh more. Assume the best in people. Practice compassion. It is not too late to pursue your dreams. After all, I am now writing this blog. Dare to live big.
Mila Atmos is a columnist whose work has been featured by The Huffington Post, Quartz, and Medium.
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