The familiar pit formed at the bottom of my stomach like a butterfly battle royal on pay per view. It developed after my mom answered the phone and told me it was for me.
When I was younger, I was afraid of just about everything. New situations always brought an enormous level of anxiety, and phone calls delivered a special level of dread.
It was a classmate on the other end, asking if I wanted to come over to play.
For most people this would be great news, not a situation worth getting nauseous over. But I was not most people. I’ve never been keen on having my plans changed at the last minute. I had a whole day planned of doing nothing ahead of me. Not to mention, I’d never been to Chris’ house before. Talk about a new situation! It was clearly a sensory overload too treacherous for a lazy Saturday.
I quickly mumbled some excuse about how My mom wouldn’t let me today and hung up. “Whew! That was close,” I thought to myself, eager to return to my regularly scheduled day of surprise-free comfort.
Only one problem: my mom heard.
She ordered me to call my friend back up to tell him I could go. Gulp. That wasn’t at all embarrassing! “Hey Chris…hehe…good news…”
The thing is, I ended up having a great time. There were many similar situations in my childhood in which my mom shoved me out of the nest, and I almost always enjoyed it. Eventually, I started to make little leaps on my own. At some point, I decided I didn’t want to be an 80-year-old guy looking back on my life, wondering, “What if?”
The fear of regret became worse than the fear of the unknown.
Life can be a spectator sport if you want it to be. You can watch the action standing safely on the shore. It’s the best way to minimize risk, avoid failure, and stay comfortable.
The only problem is that it’s not much of a life.
The real action happens out in the surf. To ride the wave of an amazing life, you have to be willing to leave the shore.
Sometimes you have to take the plunge into parenthood even though you don’t think you’re ready.
Sometimes you have to cash in your rainy day fund for a venture that might not work.
Sometimes you have to book that trip today, because you never know how many tomorrows you have left.
I cannot guarantee that you won’t wipe out every now and again. But the bumps and bruises that accompany a wipeout are more tolerable than the deep ache of wondering “what if?”
What wave is it time for you to catch?