One of the most obvious cultural differences I’ve come across here in Germany has really got my thinking lately. The people here tend to be risk-averse. They take the safe route. They’re also extremely practical and do a great job at managing their expectations. Everything is planned and everything goes according to plan. I truly respect that.
However, it’s got me thinking. For most of my life, I had always taken the path that would best shield me from disappointment and failure (I’ve shared a little bit about my upbringing here). But I’ve realised over the last few years that I don’t really do that anymore. I’ve developed an ability, one that gets me into a lot of trouble, but is also one of my greatest sources of happiness – my ability to leap into the unknown.
Leaping Before I’m Ready
I often find myself jumping into the unclear, blinded by my need for growth and adventure. I do it much before I’ve learned to fly, hoping that I’ll grow wings on the way down. It’s caused a lot of problems in the past. I’ve found myself lost, broke and starting over. But it’s also lead to me some pretty amazing places. Like right here. Right now.
These days, it’s not uncommon for me to be talking to someone about how I make big life decisions, and they look at me like I have an unrealistic view of life. Like my head is way too high in the clouds. Maybe they’re right.
It Hasn’t Always Been This Way
My situation during childhood left me riddled with trust issues. You could say that fear ruled my life. It robbed me of a lot of happiness. But I’ve been lucky enough to have had some life-changing travel experiences, met some wonderful people, and read some incredible books that have all helped me to overcome my fears and choose a life based on love.
I now have a strong ability to just trust. To trust the process even when it seems unclear. To trust that the outcome will be good even when it really seems like it won’t be. To trust that I’ll always be taken care of even when things aren’t in my favour. To trust that no matter what or where or how or why, everything will be ok.
And so it has. Everything has always turned out ok.
The Key to Living Passionately and Authentically
In the last few years, this trust has lead me to do some crazy things. Like that time Toby asked me to marry him only three months into our relationship. I decided to be totally crazy and say yes. There weren’t too many people that could agree with what I was getting myself into. I hadn’t even finished university yet! Years later, and I’m the happiest I’ve ever been in love and in life.
Or when I decided to leave my hometown, a comfortable bubble with my established support and professional network, for some cold European country where I found myself jobless and unable to communicate with people.
The thing about happiness is, you don’t find it in the end goal. You don’t find it when you get fall in love, or when you land your dream job or get that apartment you’ve been eyeing. You’ll most likely just find yourself wanting more once you have it. Happiness is found in the now, in the imperfectly perfect journey you’re on right now. So what are we all afraid of? Fear isn’t going to save you from anything because life is always going to be filled with contrasts, whether you shield yourself or not. The ups, the downs, the ins, the outs. At the end of the day, we shouldn’t be afraid of judging eyes, broken bones or broken hearts.
My greatest fear is that I look back and realise I’ve lived a life based on fear instead of love.
Are You Choosing Love or Fear?
Do you work in your job because you love what you do? Or do you do it because that’s what others expect of you?
Are you in a relationship because you love the person you are with? Or because you fear being alone?
I hope that if you ever reach a turning point in your life, you will always choose the things that make your heart beat faster and your soul sing… I really hope that. That you face your fears, and act from a place of love and authenticity. That you tolerate nothing less than your greatest love and wildest dreams. Because that’s what life is about. It’s why we’re here. To create as many happy, passionate, crazy beautiful moments as possible.
I still struggle with fear. I still have bad days. But at the end of it, I always choose love. So wherever my path may lead from here on in, no matter how many wrong turns I make, dead ends I meet, cliffs I reach… I hope that the only thing that changes is my ability to settle deeper into this trust with every leap.
I wish it for me and I wish it for you.