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Terrified of Failing, Terrified of Flying: the fear of leaving the comfort zone.

Antonia explores the feelings of frustration that come from self-sabotage, and the importance of trusting yourself, your capabilities and pursuing your dreams. She shares her experiences with atychiphobia (the fear of failure) and metathesiophobia (fear of change) and the inner battle of fighting for fulfilment vs the safety of familiarity.

It’s a hard truth to face when you realise that no, the world is not against you.

No one has been silently praying for your downfall, or even cared enough to try. There were no tests or trials and tribulations placed directly in your path by a higher power.

The problem is actually just you. Rather, it’s your subconscious shielding you from discomfort and uncertainty.

This was the hard truth I had to acknowledge about two years ago when I started University - and it’s been grating on me ever since.

I have a tendency to procrastinate. Intensely. And I realised I do it the most when it comes to the things I really want and care about. Not just with small, arguably trivial, things like cutting my hair or getting a nose piercing, but with more concerning matters like my aspirations and my future. I tell myself I’ll start pursuing my dreams eventually, that I’ll do it when the time is right. But why? If I know what I want, and I know what steps to take to get there, why not start now? Now is as good a time as any. But, suppose I didn’t have a plan for my future. There are still resources at my disposal, an infinite amount of information on google just itching to reach my brain and yet, I’m waiting. Why am I denying myself my dream career, or my small business, or even a cool new look?

Why delay the satisfaction? What are you really waiting for? (well, time and money to name a few, but that’s not the point I’m making here.) The intentions are there, the passion and desire is all there. That should be enough to will you into action, right?

But instead, you sit.

You wait and watch the minutes, the months, the years slowly shave off your life until you grow resentful of your past self and their indecision. Why do we do that? Why delay gratification or even reject the notion altogether?

The answer comes in many forms: self-doubt, anxiety, imposter syndrome, feelings of inadequacy. But they all boil down to one root cause - fear.

It is a form of self-sabotage that doesn’t often get talked about. Holding yourself back because you are afraid. Of uncertainty, of rejection. Of commitment, of failure. Of change. What if I’m not good enough? What if it doesn’t work out? Then save yourself the trouble and don’t do it all.

Sometimes, the reason we deny ourselves small things like a haircut or a tattoo, or bigger things like a dream career, and why we aren’t barreling head first into the life we want for ourselves is simply because, subconsciously or otherwise, we are too scared. We are worried about ‘what if’s’, the possible regrets, afraid of finally doing something potentially fulfilling because we are comfortable. We are comfortable, right here. Even if we aren’t happy.

It’s better to stick with what we know, rather than be uncertain.

Psychologically, our main aim is to protect ourselves. Being outside of our comfort zone challenges this protection - instils a sense of panic into our rhythmic, known, ‘ordinary world’. It creates uncertainty, which makes us feel anxious. As human beings, we are wired to avoid these feelings, making us reluctant to spark change and break away from what we have grown accustomed to. And, unfortunately but all too commonly, this keeps us tied to situations that aren’t ideal for our growth and can even be counterproductive.

I’ve spent two years denying myself what I truly want for my life, from switching university courses, to potential careers, to simple changes in my appearance. I just want to leap into the unknown but my own hand is holding me back. Like millions of people in the world, I stop myself short before I even try. Before I can even give myself the chance to decide if something is right for me. I deny myself the chance to succeed. And the most frustrating part of all is how I’m fully aware I am doing it. Any time I find the courage within me to take that small leap, I stop myself short. It’s like there's this presence behind me that whispers in my ear, not all the reasons I shouldn't take the chance, but that it knows I never will. It jeers at me. I’m terrified of doing something more with my life and I’m terrified of doing nothing to achieve it. So instead I do nothing. I stew in a pot of adequate, comfortable, just okay, because my ego gets threatened and it protects me from embarrassment.

I’ve kept myself stuck in this mediocre loop of “happy enough” but still burning for something else, and why?

I was too scared to start over. To change. To be deemed a failure or, even more daunting, go for what I actually wanted. And I was scared to do it without guilt, or shame, for the fear of being judged.

Another hard truth? Nobody actually cares about what you do. If they truly matter, they’ll just be happy that you are happy too.

I wasted literal years of my life not doing what I really wanted, or not seizing opportunities in case nothing ever came from them. I was so worried about failing or not being successful on the first attempt that I didn’t even bother trying.

I’m tired of not going for it. And I hope you are too.

We can’t be afraid forever.

We are entirely capable of achieving everything and anything we have ever wanted.

If you’re never challenging yourself or believing in yourself, you’ll stew in the pot of just-so for the rest of your life, which trust me, is far scarier than pursuing your dreams.

You’ll meet hundreds of people that will reject you, or doubt you, or tell you no - don’t allow yourself to be one of them.

Mistakes are part of the process. It’s the whole point of growing and learning. It’s how you build resilience and discover your passions. It’s how you begin to believe in yourself, and trust yourself to give you, not only what you want, but what you entirely deserve.


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