I recently left the Government Service where I have been working for the last 12 years. Against the backdrop of an uncertain and unusual global situation surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, many praised me for my “courage” while in the same breath asking the ubiquitous “Why”.
These were not unexpected responses. After all, who is so “senseless” as to give up a stable and secure job in the Government sector (the only sector that is still hiring amid the COVID pandemic), to venture into something seemingly unknown and uncertain. Hands down, no quibbling over the left-brain logic. However, much as we resist getting out of our comfort zones, we have to admit that many of life’s greatest journeys and adventures come from a place of discomfort.
While we know it with our intellectual heads, we often resist it in our hearts. No change – no matter how small – is easy. What more one that involves not just leaving a job but essentially a certain career trajectory. A comfortable one at that. Why rock the boat? Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t.
For someone who subscribes to the belief that oft times language is a poor channel to articulate what we first experienced in our spirit (ironic for a communications scholar/practitioner to be saying this), I first realised the depth of how much I’d wanted to leave the system when I heard myself say this to a business contact one day – “I have much to lose if I leave the system; but I’d have more to lose if I’d stayed.” That was when I knew my heart had known what my head was just starting to catch up.
No, this article is not about me. It is my story but there is a bigger story out there which affects all of us. Among others, one lesson many of us might have learnt from this current pandemic is that we can plan all we want with our lives, but nothing is certain. Read somewhere that if you want certainty, you are better off buying a toaster. At least that comes with a warranty.
No, life is uncertain; life is messy; and there will always be things you are afraid of. Not suggesting you live your life courting risks to conquer and proving to the world that you are fearless. I’m talking about the crippling fears that are preventing you from living your life to the fullest. Not all fears take a central place in our lives. But if the fear has enlarged to a point of thwarting how you want to live your life, it is time to do something about it. These need not be big monumental fears that sink you into a state of deep depression. It sometimes takes the form of the silent ambient fears that rear its head over so frequently to create a state of unease and imbalance.
How do you assess if a risk is worth taking? A litmus test for me is – would I be faced with regret if I not do anything about it? Which is greater – my fear of rocking the status quo or my fear of coming to the end of my life faced with regrets?
Life is short. This pandemic has drawn this reality closer to our hearts. It is time we prioritise courage over comfort. Especially if the courage brings you closer to who you are made to be.