I have always been a dreamer and at the same time, I have always been afraid. Afraid of what? Failure. And if I hadn’t crossed paths with Jill Coleman about 10 years ago, I have no idea what I would be doing now.
As the oldest of three, I have always been a perfectionist: straight A’s throughout my grade school and high school careers, class president all 4 years of high school, a national honor society member and valedictorian. I went onto complete my undergraduate schooling at Wake Forest University. I remember Wake being my first “wake up” call. I received my first C, and for a split second, I thought it was the end of the world. I spoke to my father, who was able to talk some sense into me. He asked me what if I had failed? Oh the “F” word made me cringe. He made me realize it wasn’t the end of the world, and after all, I wasn’t going to school to become the next Linus Pauling.
I met Jill the following fall while I was finishing up my morning workout. She was the new Fitness Director. I didn’t get much out during our first conversation (surprising if you know me), but she merely said, “Do you have a lifting partner? I will see you at 6:30 tomorrow morning.” I ended up living with Jill my senior year, and that was one of the best years of my life – filled with friends, fitness, and a positive mindset. But when it came to graduation, I felt fear creeping up on me. What the hell was I going to do?
The next three years I spent my life on a path driven by fear: I moved out to Arizona, attempted medical school, and the Peace Corps. I was so afraid of following my passion and concerned about living up to others expectations. There were many times I would call up Jill, and she would sound like the chorus of an inspirational song, “Follow your heart Kel, you know what you want to do.” She was right, I did know what I wanted to do, but I had no confidence that I could become an expert in the field of fitness. There was no guarantee of success with that move. (Fear and certainty can be huge dream suckers!)
Finally after some years of doubt, I met my childhood hero, Triple H (feel free to read that blog) who inspired me to take a chance. I immediately started applying to graduate schools for exercise science and was awarded a graduate assistantship. I faced my fear, score! Not so fast, the game is just starting and there is a whole lot more of fear out there. I was coming up to graduation for my Masters and was terrified again, what was I to do next? Ughh Ughh.. PhD? Um … I decided to enroll in another Masters program this one in Public Health with a focus on Marketing and Communication. And I love it! I have learned more in this degree that is applicable to most of what I have learned in my years of higher education .
However, the next challenge I am ready to face head on: believing in myself to take the next step. I know in my heart what excites me, what makes me happy, what gives a sense of purpose. I have been a “victim” of the rat race driven by fear and certainty, and I no longer want to be in it.
Life is too short, to live in fear and not do what we want to do. I have realized by following my passion, it is going to take work, setbacks, sacrifices, and days when I am like, “Is anyone out there?” But I know that the pay-off is much better than living life for someone else’s expectations.
Fear will always be there, but how you respond to fear will determine your destiny: control it or be controlled!
On that note, do one thing everyday from here on out that scares you!