I am an advocate of confronting fears head-on in order to make progress in life. I’ve repeatedly written about embracing the things that scare you and seeing fear as a sign that you are headed in the right direction. In most areas of my life, I put that philosophy into practice on a regular basis, but there has been one situation in which fear has gotten the best of me for a long time.
We all reach those metaphorical walls in life that stop us in our tracks. There are all kinds of self-help analogies out there about finding ways to overcome those obstacles – going over the wall, going around the wall, etc. I have been at this particular wall for close to a year. I have been utterly stopped in my tracks for all of this time because I couldn’t find a way over or a way around. My wall was that big. So, I have been banging my head against this wall for months, which has obviously been rather painful, and has caused me a lot of angst and heartache.
It finally occurred to me that the only way to move forward was to go through the wall. I knew it was going to hurt, I knew it was going to be difficult, and I know that in all likelihood I would not come out the other side unscathed. I had an opportunity, which also happened to coincide with a moment of courage, so I took a deep breath and ran at the wall…
I made it through, but what I found on the other side was not really what I had hoped for. My ego was bruised. My heart was heavy. It was painful. I was immediately flooded with shame, not because I had gone through the wall, but because the wall even existed in the first place and because what was on the other side was not what I wanted. However, once the shame began to subside, it was being slowly replaced by another feeling – relief. The wall was no longer looming large in front of me, and even though moving through the wall was unpleasant, I felt I had conquered something within myself that had been holding me back for such a long time.
Then, there was some secondary fear. There was a lot of rubble in my way as a result of me bulldozing through the wall. I had to deal with those residual feelings of shame and the awkwardness that accompanied the situation. I was tempted to avoid those feelings and hide, but realized that the sooner I faced the aftermath of my decision to walk through the wall, the sooner I would be past the rubble and onto a new path, once again making progress. So, I sucked it up, dealt with some momentary unease, and then found myself walking happily along the new path beyond the wall.
I don’t know exactly what new possibilities have opened to me now that I demolished this wall, but I’m convinced that they exist and they are something to be excited about. Personal growth can get messy, and as much as I would like to tell you that there is a quick and clean way to overcome every obstacle that will pop up in your life, some of them are just that monstrous that you may have to suffer through some significant pain and hardship in order to move past them. You can’t always go over, go under, or go around – there are some things you just have to go through.
It isn’t lost on me that I faced a very similar wall a few years ago, which I paced in front of for months before turning around and walking the other way. I never conquered it, and in some ways, it still haunts me. This was my chance for a do-over of sorts, an opportunity to do things differently, which I did. Maybe it didn’t turn out the way I wish it would have, but at some point in the future, I am pretty sure I will look back on this and appreciate the outcome and where it led me in the long run.
I don’t really believe in destiny, but I do believe in purpose. Purpose can be expressed in a variety of ways, but destiny to me feels too much like a one track journey to only one destination. I’m excited about the ways in which my purpose will manifest now that I have been through the wall.