“What’s the worst that could happen?”
A great question to live by. At least in theory. But a really hard one to live by in practice.
Because our brains can answer the question in many different ways:
- I could get laughed at.
- They could say no.
- It could mean rejection from something else.
- They could say yes, and then I actually have to do it.
- Someone could get hurt.
- Aliens could attack, the Titanic could sink, and the zombie apocalypse could begin.
- I could die.
Depending on how great the stakes, and how much or little sleep you had the night before, any or all of these decisions can go through your mind before making a big decision. Or maybe even a small decision that you don’t know the possible repercussions to.
Think about a first date. At some point you and the other person decide that it’s worth planning to be in the same place, at the same time, with the intention of interacting with one another. In that description it’s super easy, practically a computer program for dummies. But if you are anything like me, then no, it’s not super easy. Because it is not just same place / time / table. It is choosing to believe that this other person is worth being at least a little vulnerable with, that they are worth the chance of something more than the same place / time / table. If they weren’t, then it would not be a “date”, it would be a “hang out” or some other noun.
Think about a long run. For me, a long run is something over 10 miles. For you, maybe it’s a mile or 20 miles or 100 miles. Whatever. At the simplest level, it is literally stepping outside your door, taking many many many steps in a direction, and eventually coming back to that door. But really, when it is a “long run”, that means planning ahead to spare the time for the preparation, run, and recovery. It means having rest, food, clothing, and maybe some Advil prepared. And it means having a back-up plan for what if, somewhere in all those many many many steps, something happens so you cannot make it back home. As I stepped outside my door for my 18-mile run two weeks ago, I realized that the people I usually would call if I was stuck were all out of town on a trip. That my Plan A, Plan B, and Plan C people were not available. I was a statue, stuck on my front doormat until I came up with a Plan D person I knew I could call who would come and help me. I had cash, a debit card, my ID, snacks, and water with me. But until I had that name in my head, I could not take one step away from my doorway.
What’s the worst that could happen? A lot. A freaking ton of bad could happen. I’m coming off a rough few weeks in the dating and running areas so I know that as a experiential fact.
So right along with the question has to be another thought: Feel the fear and do it anyways. Go on that next first date. Go for that next long run. And have a village of people around you with ice cream or a car ride if the worst happens. That’s how you be fearless. You feel the fear and freaking do it anyway.
I’ve survived 12 marathons and one Ph.D. program. So…now what? I’ve learned through the journeys that it’s not about intelligence, speed, magic beans, or waiting for it to get easy. It’s about strength and perseverance. This year’s blog series will be about #WhatsNext after crossing some major finish lines, and preparing for new starting lines as a runner and a (not that kind of) doctor. I am #RunPhD.