Concluding the Combatting Fear series , this final post looks at the fear of the unknown.
The future never looks like how we imagined it to be
Even when we’re convinced we’ve considered every scenario and every possibility, we still manage to miss at least one detail in our imagined futures. The unknown is the bittersweet beauty of life. No matter how much we plan today, tomorrow remains unpredictable. Many of us fear the unknown, despite not knowing exactly what it is we fear. In truth, all that we actually know is that the unknown subjects us to change. A change that shakes us more violently the more we plan for what we believe is coming. It is a change that we have no control over. It is a change that we can only begin to understand when it is here, when it has arrived, when it has been confronted.
If you have ever had the pleasure of planning a wedding, you understand how plans are redundant for the unknown. Many of us would have spent at least a calendar year preparing and planning for those precious 24 hours. You chose colour schemes, you sampled menus, you spent months picking every detail down to the tablecloth, and yet you still experienced the unknown. The day, no matter how well planned, is still filled with the unknown. Flowers go missing, aunties bring friends, wedding dresses tear, ring bearers get sick, limos are delayed, rain pours, bands get lost – it’s the unknown. Your most planned day to date is as uncertain as your least planned day. Yet if you let fear of the unknown hinder you, you may miss out on potentially the most memorable moments of your life.
When you allow yourself to face the unknown, you realize how far you can rise. If everything went exactly as we planned, and we knew every next step, our lives would remain unfulfilled. No matter how wild our dreams seem to be, or how grand our goals are, it is the unknown that shifts us to a greater level.
Through this series, you may have noticed that you can choose to fear or you can choose to combat fear. We can be anxious, stagnant and negative – or we can be bold, we can move forward, we can be positive. You can imagine the future and fear it, or you can embrace the unknown and believe it will be unforgettable.
As much as we may not like to think about it, we never know when our time on this earth may be up. When we fear, we are simply wasting our time. We owe it to ourselves to live the best life possible, knowing fully that tomorrow is never promised.
As with all fears, the unknown looks different to each of us because we all have different revelations of what we do know. For some of us, we need to combat the fear of the “social unknown”. It requires us to step out of our comfort zone, have that conversation, network, fellowship, date, or meet someone who is the complete opposite of you. For others, it may mean combatting the fear of the “financial unknown”. This may require investing, saving, looking into that home, exploring that business, or stepping outside of your 9-5 to get extra income. Perhaps it is not social or financial, but personal, intellectual, emotional, or cultural. Only you can assess which areas the fear of the unknown impacts you. Only you can be honest with yourself, and admit what scares you the most.
Many of us fail to venture into the unknown, because we do not want our hearts, dreams and plans broken. The unknown requires a willingness to be vulnerable. Just as the greatest love requires great vulnerability, the greatest achievements require the greatest risks. You must be prepared to lose it all, in order to gain it all.
As you think about combatting the fear of the unknown, consider this:
Every step into the unknown may allow you these things:
- You may succeed and gain opportunities beyond your imagination
- You may come into contact with incredible people on the way
- You may learn something new and great about yourself
- You may gain transferable knowledge that you can pass onto others or apply to different situations
During this series, I have thought about what the opposite if the “fear of the unknown” must be, and I believe it is trusting what you do know, and what you know to be true. For example, I am a woman who claims to have faith and trust God. In addition, I also claim to be a problem solver and resourceful. If I claim to be all of these things, and I know it to be true about myself – should I still fear the unknown?
What do you know about yourself? How does that help you to combat the fear of the unknown? The best way to combat this fear is to be present, to be you, to try and to trust what you know.
The known and the expected is just the beginning. The unknown and unexpected is what changes your life.
Feel free to let me know how you liked the “combatting fear” series – look out for a new series starting next week!