Embracing Your Fears And Tossing Them Away [Confessions of a Twenty-Something]

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The other day, I was just lounging around my house, being the professional bum that I am these days, when I received an email about a job I had applied for ages ago. Now mind you, I have applied for jobs by the dozen–anything that looks remotely close to my field of interest, I’ve applied for. “Personal assistant? Yeah, I’m sure there’s some writing involved in that. Marketing analyst? Hmm, sure why not!” I applied and applied and applied. And nothing. Nada. Goose egg. So when I actually got an email from someone interested in me, I was confused thinking they had the wrong email. It couldn’t be me! I only get rejection emails! Anyway, when I received this particular email, I was completely clueless to what it was regarding exactly, and that’s when I saw it: “Hello, Ms. Garrity. We would like you to come in for an interview.”

Whoa. 

As I reread that phrase over and over, I began to sweat. My stomach felt queasy. My heart was thumping so hard I thought it was going to bust out of my chest. My first instinct was to delete the email, pretend I never got it, and bury it away in some spam folder where no one would ever know of its existence. I didn’t want to reply to it. I didn’t want to set up a time to go in and have an interview. I wanted to run away.

The panic set over me, and my mind began to develop a hundred different scenarios and situations that scared me half to death. What if I get the job and no one liked me? What would the commute be like? Is this even the route I want to go with my career? What if I screw up the interview? It was a never-ending string of self-doubt. And as we know from last week, I’m trying to turn over a new leaf when it comes to negative self-talk. And though I was trying to be positive, I couldn’t shake that feeling–that anxious feeling, that sudden rush of panic. It was the fear taking over my rationality. The fear had me thinking negatively. I was gradually talking myself out of a great opportunity, and all because I was a little scared. I knew I was being a coward, but in that moment, I couldn’t snap out of it.

I was stuck in that moment—that moment when you’re the only person who knows what you know—that frozen piece of time where your stomach drops down to your feet. There is no one to tell you everything is going to be okay. There is no one to rub your back and talk you down from the proverbial ledge. No one to tell you you’re being crazy and dramatic. It’s just you on your own. Just you and your thoughts. You and your fear.

To be honest, my initial reaction to the email threw me. This email was something to be excited about. Someone wanted to actually take the time to meet me and potentially offer me a job. Why was I so horrified? This wasn’t like me at all. It didn’t make sense. But even so, I went from calm, cool, collected Katie to panicked, anxious Katie.

And why was I feeling this way? Why was I so afraid of this wonderful news? Because it was wonderful news! I have been on the job hunt since I graduated about two months ago, and let’s just say that I haven’t even gotten as much as a nibble. I’ve actually gotten whatever is less than a nibble. What’s the fishing equivalent to getting lots of rejection emails? Being eaten by a shark? I don’t know. Anyway, I digress.

The point is that change can be truly terrifying. Reality can be even more terrifying. Was this interview just too real for me to handle? In that moment, yes it was. I was scared of the fact that someone was offering me a potentially life altering opportunity, and I was worried of letting them (and myself) down. I was scared of the potential rejection. I was scared of the hypothetical first day of work and being the new kid. When it all boiled down to the nitty-gritty, I was afraid of change.

After I took another moment to calm down and truly realize what this email meant for my life, I began to settle my thoughts. It was just an interview! It was just a chance at something that could be great. It wasn’t a guaranteed job. If anything, it was practice for more interviews to come. It would be a good thing either way. I didn’t need to have a panic attack, and I definitely didn’t need to delete the email and carry on with my day like nothing ever happened. I want a job. More importantly, I need a job (a girl’s gotta eat!). I applied for a reason, and I was lucky enough to have someone be impressed by my resume. It was time for me to take this into my own hands, and do some good with it. This is scary, but this is good.

In our twenties (and pretty much always for the rest of our lives), everything is changing, and it’s daunting. Keeping up with all the transitions and modifications is no easy feat. We’re leaving school. We’re moving back in with our parents. We’re moving out on our own. We’re falling in love. We’re breaking up. We’re losing touch with old friends. We’re making new friends. We’re happy and sad and tired and wired and scared and excited. The rush of emotions that surged through me when I received that email embodies the whole idea of being a twenty-something. We’re a mixed bag of emotions—fear included.

But here’s some advice I have for you: never let the fear stop you from taking risks. Never let those “what ifs” and “yeah, but…” moments take over the part of you that yearns to try new things and take leaps of faith. It’s time to feel the fear and let it guide you through this time in your lives. Yes, different is scary because it’s unfamiliar. It’s the dreaded unknown. It’s awkward and uncomfortable and sometimes painful. The problem is that we like comfortable. We like security. We like a sure thing, and being a twenty-something is usually (and unfortunately) none of that stuff.

Fear can be paralyzing. It can hinder and hurt and delay you from getting where you want to be. Despite these uncertainties, take advantage of every opportunity. Believe that you are more than your reservations and your fear because you are more than that. Whether you’re scared to fall in love or to fly on an airplane, to try calamari for the first time or to go on a job interview, don’t let that fear stop you. Turn that fear into a motivator. Feel it. Thrive on it. Embrace it.

Katie has recently finished her undergrad at North Central College in Naperville, Illinois. She enjoys wasting hours on Facebook and tweeting things no one cares about. When asked the question, “Do you do marathons?” She promptly responds, “Of course! Which show?” Follow her @KatieGarrity! Or read her personal blog where she talks incessantly about Ryan Gosling and hummus here!

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