“O wonder! How many goodly creatures are there here! How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world, that has such people in’t!” – William Shakespeare
It’s good to be almost fearless.
Many of the things that used to really frighten me don’t bother me at all anymore.
Most of us have been brought up, very sensibly, to worry a lot. Here are some of the issues that we like to have a good worry about:
- Career progression
- Earning as much money as our friends
- Getting a decent Christmas bonus (a mixture of the two points above)
- What people think about us
- Wearing stylish clothes
In recent years I have not worried about any of these. (Those who know me will say I never paid much heed to the last one!). And the funny thing is that the less I care, the more I just concentrate on following my own path, doing what I care about and am passionate about, the more money I earn and the curve of my “career” progression steepens.
I’m aware that my “career” is an odd one, hence the quote marks. But the point is that by consciously choosing not to worry about all the things I was supposed to be worrying about, a lot of them simply slipped away. They didn’t really matter to me.
I spent years owning just two sets of clothes and one pair of shoes. I didn’t have a phone or a laptop or a car or a job or a house or a TV. I didn’t have all of the things that I was supposed to have. Instead I had freedom and independence. It was all about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, as a wise man once said.
My life is a bit more settled now, and I’m happy for it to be. I now own four pairs of trousers (jeans, tracksuit, trekking, suit). But the key premise remains the same: to spend my days doing what I care about, not what other people think I should care about. And if you are willing to do that well, and work very hard at it, then you can forge a niche and a living from it, regardless of what it is you have chosen to pursue.
However I called this post “Almost Fearless” not “Fearless”. Where’s the catch?
The catch is a big one. It’s a Faustian pact and Pandora’s box rolled into one. My choice of path means that I am lucky not to share many of the anxieties and fears of my friends. But I worry about different things.
My travels in the last few years have made me worry about how short life is and how much there is still to do. I don’t count down days until the weekend. I count down years until The End. I am so stupidly enchanted by the world and all that’s in it. There are so many places still to go, so many things to do, so many people to meet. And that is what scares me, scares the hell out of me. The pressure I put on myself to fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds’ worth of distance run is pretty big.
I’ll finish with the words of another wise man, “Don’t worry about the future; or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubblegum.”
Don’t worry about your life. Live your life. But don’t be fearless. Be almost fearless.
This post originally appeared on the Almost Fearless blog.