Farewell to fear: a guide to happiness

Technical issues mean we’ve postponed our planned post until tomorrow. So instead, I thought I’d share some personal thoughts I’ve been having lately, which have been continually validated and reaffirmed by things I’m seeing around me all the time. This has absolutely nothing to do with weddings (well, I guess you can apply it to any area of your life) it’s more to do with… well, everything. I hope that you read it, regardless of whether you’re a bride or a supplier, and that you get something out of it.

I was inspired to write this by this wonderful post on rocknrollbride.com yesterday. Please do check it out as Kat’s given some great advice.

“I’m letting go of you, of disaster and strife
No you don’t need to try to save my life
And I don’t want to listen to all the things you allege
As I walk along a clifftop edge” – Farewell to Fear, Zvi Doron 

Farewell to fear: a guide to happiness

Dear reader,

Any human reading this will, at some point in their lives, have sacrificed at least a small part of their happiness or dreams because they were afraid.

Perhaps you were afraid of failing or feeling not good enough, perhaps others around you voiced their own fears and their doubts crept in to your mind, maybe you were just afraid of getting everything you wanted and not knowing what to do from there.

Fear is a natural defence. In nature, it’s designed to stop us from being killed in stupid ways because we don’t have a healthy amount of fear. But culturally, our fear has spiralled out of control. The majority of people live from a place of fear – fear of not being able to pay the bills, fear of failure, fear of disaster, fear of disease, fear of dying, even fear of being happy. I’ll bet that most people are just surviving instead of really living. Until recently, I was one of them.

My story

I want to tell you a little story about me. Since I was a child, my heart’s deepest (and for a long time most secret) dream was to be a singer. I joined just about every choir, amateur dramatic society, singing group, drama, dance and instrument lesson I could think of. My parents were extremely encouraging and, being an awkward child and often bullied, singing was my way of getting attention for doing something good.

For the longest time, I breezed through my young singing career, landing every audition I stepped into, winning every talent contest I entered and being constantly told I was amazing. I took for granted being “naturally good” at singing and I never worked at it or bothered to learn any proper technique.

By the time I was a teenager, all those “mediocre” singers who I had outshone in my childhood had caught up. Not so mediocre anymore, they had worked their backsides off, trained their voices and guess what? I stopped automatically getting all the parts, I stopped winning everything I touched – and people stopped singing my praises. People stopped encouraging me to follow my dreams and started to point out that singing wasn’t a stable career, that I needed something to fall back on. I stopped getting external validation.

So I stopped singing.

I went and did English at university because it was the easy option. I knew I was good at writing. Why? I had an objective grading system to tell me so. It was a fact and something I could grasp on to. The only way I could commit to something fearlessly was if I had indisputable validation that I wasn’t going to fail at it – when I think about it, that’s not at all fearless.

I love writing, and I love Under the Vintage Veil – I love my job, the blog is going from strength to strength and I don’t plan to pack it in – probably not ever, unless something drastic changes in my life. But I also love singing, and I’ve lost ten years of training and gigging because I was too scared to follow my heart.

Then I lost my dad and the whole world shifted a gear. My dad was an exceptional man with lots of hobbies and amazing skills. He actually wrote a song called “Farewell to Fear” in which he talked about his struggles with his own limits. He was my biggest fan and adamant that I carry on singing, and a week after he died, I sheepishly walked into my first singing lesson in ten years, feeling entirely stupid and also like I was only doing it to honour his memory. The loss reminded me of another loss – the loss of Sara the singer, who I hadn’t seen in a very long time. Being reintroduced to that part of myself woke me up to a joy I didn’t think I could feel any more. When I sing, I feel like I’m flying. Before long I was hooked again. I decided to try to train to a professional level.

I’m through accepting limits cause someone says they’re so

There will be lots of people who are going to put their own limitations on me: I won’t be successful at it, I’m too old to try, I’m not good enough, I should do it on the side and stick to what I know, I won’t be able to run my blog and practise my singing at the same time… but I’m done with limits.

Anyone who’s ever done anything that they’re passionate about will face an onslaught of fear from others. That’s their stuff – the only person who needs to believe in you is you. It sounds like a cliché but it’s true.

You’ll also have your own fears to conquer. May I suggest something? Every time you want to do something and the fear hits you, remind yourself that you only die once and go for it anyway. There’s no formula to life, you have to find your own path in order to be happy and it has to be totally yours, don’t grow old with regrets and might-have-beens.

Your challenge

Life is short, and there’s no time to waste your precious life doing something you hate, or doing things out of duty. I don’t want you to write a list, or read an affirmation. I want you to think about your life and notice what your body is doing when you think about certain areas. For example, your work life. Does your body tense up with stress the minute you think about it? Does your stomach fill with dread when you think about certain friends? Do you feel a flutter of excitement when you think about honing that skill you’ve always loved or admired in others? Do you feel momentarily silly for even thinking of it?

The first step to doing what you want is knowing what you want – then you can find the courage to seek it out.

Living without limits: a list of dos and don’ts

Do surround yourself with amazing, positive people. Limit contact with people who drain you or put you down and figure out who builds you up and makes you feel wonderful.

Don’t let other people’s doubts stop you from doing what you love. The only person you should listen to is yourself. If you find that hard, stop and ask yourself why it is you find their opinion more valid or important than your own. A great way to do this is to stop craving validation – wear your uniqueness with pride and everyone else will believe you.

Do examine your own limiting beliefs. For the longest time I believed the world would crumble if I wasn’t in a stable, 9 – 5 job. I am currently struggling with the deeply held belief that life is not for fun, that doing something just for the love of doing something is somehow wrong and that there’s a “proper” way to live my life. I feel guilty if I have a great night out. I feel guilty if I put my laptop down to go and enjoy the sunshine. My limiting beliefs tell me that disaster will strike if I’m not miserable enough. I’m still working on getting rid of those.

Don’t compare yourself to others. The biggest obstacle I’ve faced in my personal and professional life is comparing myself to others. It’s an instant way to feel terrible, as everyone is so unique, other people will inevitably have qualities, skills or success that you envy. Focus on your own achievements, big or small, and the things that make you special. Also, the success of others does not take anything away from you. It doesn’t mean that you won’t be just as great or successful or limit you in any way.

Do play around – you don’t have to have the end game figured out before you’ve even started to play. Try out different things and see where they lead you. Your intuition is much more powerful than your brain and it will somehow lead you in the right direction every time if you don’t block it with fear.

Don’t put yourself in a box. You are not your career, you are not your interests, you are a person who evolves and grows. Every time I introduce myself as “a writer” I’m doing myself a disservice – I’m so much more than that, as is everyone.

So lovely readers, from my heart to yours, I’m begging you: don’t let your dreams and desires go untouched because the idea of reaching for them is terrifying. Commit to that relationship, or get out of it if it’s not right. Ditch the job that makes you miserable and retrain – there’s always support out there. Get in touch with someone you care about and discard the people that bring you down.

Your time is now, life is waiting for you, so go out there and be happy! 

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