By Olusola Alli
At a training yesterday, after the facilitator had shown us series and series of movie clips all pointing to following one’s dreams, not giving up, the hackneyed but so much true ‘if you can dream it, it can be achieved’; shedding insecurities the way one does wet clothes, I asked a simple question.
‘Are you saying that if one has ever dreamed of a different life from the one one is living right now, then one should make a change immediately?’
His response: ‘Of course, yes.’
But then he said something that though not profound, got me in a hard place.
He said that even though he had always been on others to live their dreams, he has been afraid to take himself up on his own advice.
That got me.
Here was a young man who knew what he wanted to do. He had the ideas, the know-how as to how to bring his dreams to realisation, but held back by a four-letter disease more pervasive than cancer.
That illogical, irrational, incomprehensible shadow that waits until one births a new dream and then jumps out of the shadow, a vampire ready to suck your new-born dream lifeless.
Fear, the ultimate cheat that robs us of the only thing we do not have and can never ever recover once lost – time.
Fear, the factor holding the responsibility for making graveyards the richest mines you would find anywhere.
When I talk about fear, I’m talking about the mind-numbing, soul-crushing, legs-cramping, choking worm that makes you pause to think, re-think, then reconsider a particular line of action and finally beat you back into your shell like a turtle, head covered in the shame of ‘not-good-enough’.
I lived this way for years, caged by this monster that I took to be a friend protecting me from unimaginable woes waiting to gobble me up.
I erred on the side of caution too many times and became a shallow, unimaginative version of who I should be.
I didn’t take a chance on human relationships because the price could be high. After all, people cheat and lie.
I didn’t take up new experiences because the cliché ‘the devil you know…’ was a silent mantra of mine.
But finally, after years of living in a prison of my own doing, another cliché came to my rescue.
When I dared to listen to Miss None-of-us-is-getting-out-of-this-world-alive I realised a bitter truth.
I would not be given a medal for all the years spent in the prison of fear.
I would never get paroled for good behaviour in that prison because I could walk out of it at any time of my choosing.
I could be a model prisoner and all fear would compensate me with is to rob me of the only true possession I have – those few precious seconds and minutes I have till the curtain comes down.
So, I walked out.
Tip-toeing, stealthily, heart in my mouth, I took the steps till I got to the gate – which I met wide open – then strolled out, head held high, shoulders back, face forward.
So, to you reading this: it does not matter what you wish to do.
It does not matter if to your knowledge, no one has ever achieved it before.
Ever thought of the fact that maybe no one has ever achieved it because none had the exact skill set borne out of your abilities, vulnerabilities, circumstances and tragedies?
Just take a step forward.
Don’t. Look. Back.
Once you walk out on fear, your greatest life battle is won.
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