Fear is something we all have felt and faced at some point in our lives. It can be frustrating and confining, but it is a normal human response to stressors. Although, some may experience it more heavily than others. Confronting fear has been a continuous battle in my life. It has almost stopped me from pursuing my dreams and goals on more than one occasion. As a child, I would always play in the woods because I loved the adventure and excitement of new terrain. I experienced countless moments where I realized I was lost and would cry out for help, sprinting between the branches in fear. Similarly, now as a young adult, I often find myself on exciting adventures that quickly turn into moments of anxiety because I realize I feel lost.
When I first came to JMU, I declared a major in Kinesiology with a Pre-Physical Therapy Minor. I found myself feeling miserable, taking class after class I had no interest in. By sophomore year, I thought it was too late for me to switch, although I knew I was incredibly unhappy. My fear left me feeling paralyzed. I almost stayed in a major I wasn't compatible with, because it provided me the comfort of a future stable career and life plan. I finally hit a breaking point while sitting in my apartment bedroom one night. I knew I needed a change. I was tired of feeling too scared to act on it. I found the courage to drop all my classes and launched my search for a new direction.
A week before the semester began, feeling terrified, I had no major declared or classes in my schedule, but luckily, I came across the Communication Studies website. While reading the coursework, I realized how closely it aligned with my passions. I felt a sense of excitement I thought I had lost while at school. Within the hour, I declared the major. Eventually, I was able to enroll in the classes I needed. This became the first step in my journey at school that I have come to love. This road has been bumpy and stressful, much like my times in the woods as a kid, but facing the unknown and taking this leap of faith was the most freeing decision I have ever made. Fear is a recurring barrier I have learned I must climb over. Sometimes the climb takes longer than I would like to admit, but I am here to tell you that the risk has been, and always will be, worth it.
From someone who constantly battles fear, here are a few tips I have learned in the process of discovering my passion:
Remember Everyone Has to Start Somewhere
It is easy to look around and compare yourself to successful people who seem to have it all together, but always remember they, too, had to start from the ground up. Success does not happen overnight; it is a lifelong journey.
It is impossible to find your passion if you do not take the time to find who you really are. It is crucial to prioritize self-exploration and invest in yourself. There are countless personality and career tests online, and a plethora of books that can assist you in the journey. Take some time to explore tests like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), The Enneagram Personality Test, and the Minnesota Multi-phasic Personality Inventory (MMPI). Discovering who you are will lead you to your passion. It is a process, and sometimes you even have to realize what you dislike in order to find what inspires you. But once you understand yourself, life will start to feel a little easier and make a lot more sense.
Remember Money Isn’t Everything
It is important to know yourself and know what you are passionate about, but it does not stop there. If your passion leads to a career path that is not viewed as “well off”, do NOT let that halt your journey. Confucius said it best, “Choose a job you love and you'll never have to work a day in your life.” Money is heavily idolized in our culture. Taking the time to realize that a paycheck doesn’t equal happiness can be a huge step in pursuing a career you love.
NEVER Let Fear Stop You
I can’t emphasize this enough— never let fear stop you. Fear is completely normal, and it should be embraced with open arms to propel you forward in life. Do not give up because you are scared. Embrace the fear, embrace the mistakes, embrace the unknown, because that is where the best opportunities in life take root.'