“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.”
The most overused quote ever and I still love it.
This is probably one of the most used motivational and inspirational quotes and perhaps there is a reason to it. I am a huge consumer of motivational speeches/music/quotes/books and am proud of it. Because I know that they have an effect on me, because I know that if I listen to a certain song in the morning I’ll have a different attitude, because I know that if I hear a certain speech I’’ start the match believing in myself, because all of these and much more, I surround myself with inspirational material.
And this quote right here sits at the top of my list and above my bed. Not only do I feel the energy growing inside of me every time I read it, but I have lived my life according to it and was never disappointed.
Dreaming of knights in shiny armour and despising princesses dressed in pink.
Ever since I was little, I dreamt of being a knight. I wanted to identify with all the heroes I read about and this is a habit I still have, especially with female heroines. I still want to be Arya Stark from the “A Song of Ice and Fire” series, even though I am much older than her and I wanted to be Katniss Everdeen in „The Hunger Games” trilogy. I dreamt of being Zoey Redbird in the „A House of Night series”, and still feel a little bit like Beatrice Prior from „Divergent”. Part of my being a tomboy came natural, but part of it was an act, and even to this day I am not sure how I really am. But I know now, what I also knew then, that a life lived in fear is not worth living and have decided long ago that I wasn’t going to be a prissy princess but a fearless warrior, exactly like Eloise, daughter of D’Artagnan or like Merida in “Brave”.
I was the first one to get shots at the doctor, the only one willing to kill a spider or touch a worm for a dare. I was the first one to go down the zip line or jump into a river from an 8 metres high rock as well as the one always suggesting the scariest rides in the fun park. I was the one going on the diamond marked slope even on an icy day or choosing to explore the forest on skies/snowboard. I didn’t say no to parasailing or scuba-diving and did not refuse to take word in front of 500 people. I rode the kicker and glided on a butterbox and even though I fell and was injured continued to try and jump and ride on.
The hidden terror and the missed chances.
Many congratulated me and many still do, saying how brave I was but no one knew just how terrified I felt and how close I was to saying no and stopping before each and every single feat I just mentioned. What pushed me to still do them was a combination of curiosity, need of proving my worth to myself and to the others, knowledge of how great and proud I would feel afterwards and telling myself not to be a pussy, because most of the times there wouldn’t be a second chance or opportunity to do the respective action.
Every time I hesitated, I lost an opportunity that someone else took and every time I didn’t step forward I felt horrible afterwards, worthless even. So, a long time ago I decided to be the one who steps forward, to be the one trying. However, I still have to take this decision every time I am put in face of a challenge and I know I have to react quickly, but this doesn’t make it any easier.
Standing at the top of the mountain, I can choose the black diamond slope or the blue one. Seeing a kicker, I can try and jump off it or I can just go past it. Sitting in my desk listening to a teacher or a lecture, I can raise and ask my question and risk being silly or thought of as stupid or I can sit back and remain with my doubts but in a safe place where no one will notice me. On the court, noticing a short ball I can run towards it and completely miss it or I can remain on the spot and lose the point for sure. Split second decisions that have so many consequences on short and long term and affect my disposition for the moment, affect my surrounding, affect who my friends are and how far I’ll go and what I will accomplish.
But what I really want to emphasize, and this is where I actually reach the quote, is that just standing there doesn’t solve my dilemma. The hill won’t become less steep if I stare at it and the kicker won’t become smaller just because I would feel more comfortable that way. The crowd does not become friendlier if you hope for it and the ball won’t come to you if you look at it with pleading eyes. But what will surely happen is that you become stiff. The more you stand there, the more you hesitate, the less likely are you to just do the ”oh-so-scary” thing. In those moments, you will always find more reasons why everything could go wrong than why it is a good idea to jump in. And then you will give up. And you will feel miserable just seconds after you decide not to grab what is right in front of you. But it will already be too late.
Inaction, remaining there, petrified, motionless will breed doubt and fear: “Am I good enough?”, “I can’t do it”, “What was I thinking?”.
Adrenaline tells your brain to shut up. You are good enough.
But action, jumping into the unknown, gives you a rush of adrenaline, gives you power. Or at least, it take for a moment your ability to think. You simply act and most of the times thinking to much is what stops us from being great. We know what we have to do, our body knows it, it is only our mind that doubts it. And not giving the brain time to think shuts it for that second when you need to take the decision and act.
I am not saying to jump recklessly into anything. But I am certain that we all know our capabilities and ultimate boundaries. Of course, I am all about pushing my limits, and I will go over fear and pain to achieve something, but I will not go on the big kicker until I have conquered the small one and I will not speak in front of a 1000 people crowd until I can handle a 500 one. And so will you. We, as humans, are incapable of deliberating hurting ourselves and know our ultimate limits to well. It is those imaginary limits, those comfort limits that we need to push against.
And again, action, but this time in the form of habit is what helps us destroy those comfort limits and leads us to the better versions of ourselves. If you take the decision to go for it and launch yourself in spite of your doubts more and more often it should start coming easier to you. The fear will not go away. There are always bigger challenges ahead of us. But you will be more prepared to face them.
Day-to-day action and Procrastination: the killer of confidence.
And recently I have discovered another side of the quote, “action brings confidence”, and that is the side of our day-to-day life. Here, I am not talking about action meaning jumping off a cliff or launching yourself in a crowd of thousands. I am talking about the action of being active, of setting goals, of getting up earlier to go for a run, or staying up a little bit later to finish the project today and not tomorrow. Action, meaning the habit of being active, of not being lazy, of doing things and not waiting them to happen every single day.
I love being active, I wrote about loving to get up early and having more time to do and try everything.
But I have not written about the time when I became the laziest person I knew. Procrastination: the killer of confidence and courage. After I received my admission letter, I felt relieved. But I also felt goalless. I knew I deserved a break and took it even though I didn’t necessarily need it. I stubbornly stopped doing my homework or learned more than was necessary just because I knew I could. I stayed up late nights even though I didn’t have anything to do just because I was free to do so. You get the idea. I became lazy and uninterested and the stupid thing is that I almost forced myself to become that way. I told everyone that I didn’t care about the grades anymore and that I just wanted to have fun but the sad thing is that I didn’t even manage that. I felt bad getting lower grades, I didn’t enjoy staying late at the parties because I was getting tired. At the end of the semester, some months later, I got to the point where I doubted I could go back to being top of my class. I feared even trying because I felt so far away from the girl I used to be, the girl who woke up to run and stayed up late to work.
Inaction, laziness brought this upon me. Doubts, fear.
Getting back up: Let’s see. Can I do this?
Luckily, I bounced back. I decided to challenge myself once more. Let’s see: even if I don’t need the grades, how good a score can I get on my examinations. Let’s see: can I lose all the weight I gained in one month? Let’s see: what would be like if I played a competition again? I felt the changes immediately. Motivated, curious, courageous, I felt like myself again. This are ongoing challenges that I set for myself, so I still don’t know the outcome, but one thing I know for sure: I certainly like myself better this way.
As for the biggest challenge in front of me: college, I am making sure that I will never let doubts and fear conquer me again. How do I do that? By making sure I will remain active. I have enrolled in the summer session, taking classes earlier. I have signed up for surfing, hip-hop and yoga lessons. I will join the Model United Nations team as well as the snowboard one. And with a little bit of luck and a lot of work before, that is until I get there, I might even get on the tennis team and get my tennis career back. I already feel my blood pumping in my veins and my excitement level going up. Only by writing this I feel ready to go run on the treadmill and absolutely kill the girls tomorrow at the first competition I will play in almost a year.
This is what action does.
I look forward to a life full of scary moments. I look forward to conquer my doubts and look brave. In the end, can you act brave if you are not? I doubt it.