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I’m a Jersey girl. I don’t pump my own gas. And I don’t mean that in a snobby way. It’s actually illegal.
I recently went on a work trip to Georgia and South Carolina. I ubered around when in Georgia, but decided to get a rental car when I touched ground in Atlanta. I just felt like having more control over my trip, and I also needed some sweet, pure alone time with my thoughts. This was a jam packed trip and when I wasn’t surrounded by people, I was sleeping. If you’re an introvert, you know exactly how I was feeling!
Anyway, I was driving back to the airport for my flight home. I was feeling good – it was 65 degrees, sunny, and in a few hours I’d be back in my home state surrounded by my favorite guys! And then it hit me.
I need to fill up before I return the car which means I have to pump my own gas. Oh god. I have no idea how to pump gas!
Sounds silly to anyone who lives outside of New Jersey, or any New Jerseyan (is that a word?) who travels out of state a lot. Or any normal person. I know. It’s a bit pathetic. But seriously! I’ve only ever pumped my own gas once in NY and that was like 10 years ago.
I debated just returning the car and paying the rental car company for the gas. It wouldn’t be much and it’s an expense my company would cover anyway. I don’t know how to pump my own gas, and I was nervous! I was afraid of looking like a fool in front of everyone at the gas station.
It’s a simple dilemma to be in – if you can even call it a dilemma. Really, it’s no big deal. If you don’t want to pump your own gas, then yeah, just pay for the rental car company to do it.
But for me, it was bigger. Think about it – I was about to avoid a minor task that most people do everyday because I was afraid of it.
How many times do we avoid doing something because we’re afraid? We’re afraid of failing. We’re afraid of looking stupid. We’re afraid of what other people may think of us.
In addition to this, we are creatures of habit. I am in the habit of dodging things that scare me, as many of us are. I have always gone easy on myself and taken the beaten path. I have passed up many opportunities throughout my childhood and adulthood that really could have added great value to my life. Whether in the form of happy memories, wisdom, or even materialistically.
I used to think to myself, There has got to be more to life than this. And there is! There always is. The universe is just waiting for you take advantage of everything it has to give you. But you have to want it and be brave enough to let it happen.
Caroline Myss (an author whose books I really need to check out) said, “Always go with the choice that scares you the most, because that’s the one that is going to require the most from you”.
In other words, if it scares you, it’s probably going to help you grow. That’s a huge part of having a fulfilling life – growing.
New experiences are usually scary because there is an unknown element to them. Remember how nervous you were right before your first kiss? That big job interview? The moment you realize you’re going to be a parent? For a split second, you contemplate running away, right? It crosses your mind – going back to what feels safe and comfortable, what you know. Going through a new experience opens you up to failure and other potentially bad outcomes.
Despite these feelings, in your rational mind, you know that the outcome will probably be good. And really, what is the worst that could happen? Is it all that bad?
It is with all of this in mind that I decide I am going to pump my own gas! Woohoo!
It’s something so small, but I know that once I do it, it’s just something else I know how to do.
It’s going to build my confidence, and it’s going to feel good if I’m ever driving in a different state with my husband and boys and I’m able to show them that I can do this! The best part is, my preschooler wants to be a Gas Man (gas station attendant) when he grows up so how cool will I look to him?!
Consciously making the decision to do something that scares you, no matter how small or big, will have a positive impact on you, whether you succeed at it or not. Here’s why:
- You’re building your self-confidence. You’re proving to yourself that you can do something even if it scares you. Sure, you might not get that job, but you just went through with something that made you super nervous. That takes guts! You are brave. You are strong.
- Even if you fail, you’re walking away with something valuable – experience and knowledge. Ok, your first kiss was a disaster. But your second kiss wasn’t so bad! And by the time you met your soulmate, you wowed him! You know what you’re doing. Better yet, you have advice that you can offer to other people, including your kids (maybe not kissing advice. But you get the point).
- Imagine if you succeed! Not only do you have another experience under your belt, but it feels good. You did something that scared you, you rocked it, and you’re reaping the benefit of it!
- You’re continuing to open yourself up to all the good stuff that life has to offer. You’re getting into the habit of doing what scares you. Eventually, it will become so natural to you, that you’ll make this choice almost automatically. And each time you do, you’re learning something new. You’re growing.
The next time something is staring you in the face and it scares the hell out of you, as I mentioned before, ask yourself what is the worst case scenario if you go ahead and do it. And then ask yourself how likely it is that you’re going to get that outcome. Usually the worst case scenario isn’t as bad as you’re thinking it is, AND it’s also not likely to happen.
Take my gas pumping situation for instance. The worst case scenario was that I wouldn’t be able to figure out how to use the damn pump and I’d have to ask someone for help. I would feel embarrassed and silly (and as much as that would suck, at least I’d know how to do it for next time).
Now, how likely is it that I’m not going to be able to figure out how to use the pump? Millions of people do it everyday. So not very likely.
I totally get that some things are much heavier and scarier than pumping gas, and with that comes more serious “worst case scenarios”. But if you weigh the the potential benefit vs. the potential risk, more often than not, it’s worth going for.
So what are you avoiding because you’re scared of failing? Scared of what will happen if you don’t succeed? Now let me ask you this – what if you DO succeed?