All things considered, the very first step we take as babies is a massive leap. It’s something we’ve never done before, it’s scary because our wobbly little legs still fail to provide stability, and there is no manual. Yet, we never think twice about taking that risk, that first peek into the unknown. We could not care less what others would say or that we fall every third step. We just want to explore and exhaust our options.
It’s when we encounter early criticism that instills the fear of failure and self-doubt in our hearts that we begin to reevaluate our brave approach to life. A bit later we also learn that, allegedly, the only way to security is to be responsible, swim with the tide, and wait until retirement to enjoy life again. Yet, what if we never make it that far?
Safe and Sound
The truth is, no safety net is forever, not to mention it might have bigger holes than you think. We turn to marriage, pension plans, and car seat belts for security, yet life is so unpredictable that sometimes all precautions fail. To say that not everything is within our control is an understatement. This is when the power of gratitude comes in, because nothing in this world is guaranteed, especially when it comes to protection. Security blankets are illusory and stability only lasts until something inevitably disrupts it.
This permeating lack of certainty is precisely what teaches us to ride the wave while it lasts. The only constant is change. Of course, there are measures we can implement to maximize our chances for survival and wellbeing. For example, a healthy and balanced diet, eliminating alcohol and cigarettes from your routine, and regular exercise will most definitely prolong your life. Yet, does it mean you will never get sick? If our whole lives are temporary, what’s stopping us from going for what we want?
The sooner we accept uncertainty and learn to live with it, the easier it gets to travel the bumpy and meandering roads to success. The clichéd comfort zone exit oftentimes means walking a thousand miles on your own barefoot in the desert. But if different circumstances might push you out in the open against your will any minute, is it not empowering to find the strength to decide for yourself?
“Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.” ― Helen Keller
Goodbyes and Hellos
Our view of challenges and obstacles is very relative. Only you know what qualifies as a big leap for you. The threshold for enduring fear and pain varies from person to person, and what you consider a piece of cake might appear as the end of the world to somebody else. What tickles us, might bruise others.
Nonetheless, universally, all leaps boil down to turning over a new leaf. Endings and beginnings, epilogues and prologues, you close one book to open another.
When you leave a relationship, you’re free to look for a new one (which might mean improving the one you have with yourself). When you decide to move to another country, you bid farewell to your homeland and wave hello to a new shore. You can have more than one but never all university degrees. Hence, when you decide to become a philosopher, psychologist, and marine biologist, you may have to say goodbye to practicing law.
While switching career paths, you resign from a job you know in favor of a novel profession more aligned with your vision and who you are. Starting a business, you leave a steady 9-5 life to be your own boss and provide new beginnings for both yourself and your own employees. Not everyone who leaps is a leader, but every leader leaps. When hiring someone with little to no experience, the benefit of the doubt closes the door to a rigid industrial system and opens the one to the new world order.
The moment you decide to start a family, you trade the freedom you’ve always taken for granted for the kind of unconditional love you never realized was possible. If you opt out of raising children, you step away from the traditional path to make room for self-love and autonomy.
Conquering your fear of flying leaves the old you on the ground and takes the courageous version of yourself up in the air. Whenever you fail, you abandon self-limiting beliefs and doubts in order to ask better questions and learn more advanced lessons.
Anytime you leap, you extend the limits of your life by choosing to sacrifice one incarnation of yourself for another. You take a risk to gain eye-opening and horizon-broadening wisdom reserved for the brave ones. With the attitude of open-mindedness, it’s a priceless experience that can hardly be replicated under any other circumstances.
“We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.” ― Kurt Vonnegut
Should vs. Must
Taking a leap is an act of decision-making, a crossroads, a choice between should and must. Positive and constructive change is only possible if you trust your gut and follow your instincts. In her Medium post turned book, Elle Luna, artist and speaker, explains this point of intersection as the pivotal moment of embracing or abandoning your bliss.
Should is rarely an innocent modal verb. Usually, it’s a convoluted system of somebody else’s rules, a kaleidoscope of expectations bestowed upon us from the moment we come to this world. This sequence of subtle, camouflaged influences over our lives derails our vision, purpose, and happiness. “You should never…”,“You should always…”, “You should not…” are bars in the windows of the obligation prison. The longer we choose shoulds over must, the harder it will be to unlearn our conditioning.
Must is you. It’s your calling, your innermost truth, your peace, and the familiar pull towards your dreams. Loaded with your convictions, passions, and desires, must makes you fully alive and fully aligned. It resides in undeniable, unapologetic, and non-conforming authenticity. It’s unshakeable. It’s the most persistent of your voices, unfit for any box built by anyone other than you. Must is your North Star and your bliss.
“Accept responsibility for your life. Know that it is you who will get you where you want to go, no one else.” ― Les Brown
A leap is a sharp decision with the potential to turn your reality upside down and change the trajectory of your journey forever. The more you leap, the more you live, to the point of filling your time with more life than would otherwise fit in a single lifespan. The world is your oyster. However, reinvention is not for the faint-hearted. More living comes with plot twists and more sacrifice, too. You win some, you lose some. Just do what you must.