Anxiety is tension before the thrill

My roommate Joe said he doesn’t really understand what people mean when they say they’re anxious or doubting.

“I just don’t struggle with those thoughts,” he said. (His number one strength on StrengthsFinder is Positivity, so that explains a lot.)

“I ask myself, ‘is this going to be a blast?’ And if it is, I do it.”

I envied his simple and fearless approach.

“My decisions are made after having a dialogue between myself and my doubts,” I said. 

It goes like this:

“Hmmm, this looks interesting. I could maybe do this."
"Do you think?" 
"Yeah, I think I could do that." 
"Says who?" 
"Well, says me," I guess. 
"You? Show me your credentials!" 
"I don’t have any." 
"My point exactly!"
"Maybe I’m not really cut out for it after all.”

To me, fear and doubt are very real. Their full-time job is to ask questions that make me hesitate and overanalyze. I don’t really know what their goal is except to be total bastards all the time.

“That’s why,” I told him, “I’ve been trying to make a habit these last few years to always follow my fears. They’re usually indicators that I’m heading in the right direction; into a place where my cowardly self cannot thrive and my courageous self gets to show what he’s made of.”

“Sounds like you should apply the ‘Rocking Chair Test’ to your decision-making process,” he suggested.


“Well, when you’re an old man, sitting in a rocking chair on the front porch, what stories are you going to be excited to share with your grandchildren?” He asked rhetorically. “It’s going to be the ones where you faced your fears, did the adventurous thing, and had a blast.”

I liked his logic.

“Think about it,” he said, “I could’ve stayed in North Dakota and attended the state school, never moved to Chicago and never tried to acquire an education within this unproven model, but when I’m an old man I’ll be thrilled to tell my grandkids about this time of my life.”

For both of us, this year at Experience Institute demonstrates our willingness to take risks and brave new territory without guaranteed rewards–except rewarding lessons from the experience itself.

Joe’s here because it sounded like fun. I came here because it scared me and I knew it would cause me to confront fear and doubt; two things I want to overcome.   

One day way off in the future, we’ll proudly share our stories from rocking chairs, but between now and then, I’m viewing fear as a prerequisite to adventure and anxiety as tension before the thrill.

Thrilling adventure stories are the ones I'm going to tell.

...ramble on...

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