ap·pre·hen·sive /ˌaprəˈhensiv/

  1. anxious or fearful that something bad or unpleasant will happen.
    “he felt apprehensive about quitting his job”

What are you afraid of? What is holding you back from achieving your goals?

These types of questions roll around in my head day after day; a constant reminder that I still haven’t made it to the starting point of my career. Or, at least, how I haven’t gotten as far as I thought I would have by now. I know that a huge part of achieving my goals is largely attributed to clear deadlines, and small (realistically) attainable goals along the long and winding road to my destination. But, what happens when your emotions get in the way?

I’d like to think of myself as a pretty open guy, with many aspects of my life, but when it comes to starting something new, I’m such a scaredy-cat. Which, if you knew me in person or online, is contradictory to my very being. I LOVE starting new projects, learning new tricks for my trade, gaining new experiences, and I am super extroverted. So, why on Earth is it so hard for me to let go of something, when I know in my heart of hearts, that it’s time to let it go?

I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately. By “it”, more specifically, I mean quitting my job. It sounds so bad. “Oh did you hear about Jeremy, yeah he quit his job last week.” I mean, who QUITS? I certainly don’t like to think of myself as a quitter! I like leaving jobs finished, knowing that I gave it my all. But, my friends, this is where I’ve learned that I have a fear of letting go. Especially when the thing I need to let go of has brought me so many joys, and taught me new strengths along the way.

I mentioned in a previous blog post that I’ve realized that this very idea of being uncomfortable with completeness (or something ending), is my comfort zone. I hate when something is over, because it means its gone, and gone is forever, and forever is an awfully long time.

But, here’s an even greater epiphany I had today while talking with my good friend, Diane Gibbs: My loyalty to the things I hold dear (relationships / friendships to others in this case) is what is holding me back from being my best self. I am loyal to a fault, and in this case the fault is that my loyalty to others, and my need to be the very best person I can be for them, keeps me from being the very best person I can be for myself.

I know what you’re thinking; “How can being loyal to something or someone be detrimental to you?”

I thought the same thing for a while too, but take, for example, my experience with Panera Bread. It started off like any other fast food, or retail job. The same people came in every day, smiled and worked their shifts, went home, and came back the next day to do it all over again. But these people were severely lacking any and all drive to get out of that line of work. And, unfortunately for about a year and a half, so was I. I credit this, largely, to my loyalty to the company. It sounds crazy, even now. Loyalty to this big corporate, fast food, vending machine sort of life was killing my soul, and burying my passion day by day.

“Come on, it couldn’t have been that bad! Could it?” I know, I know. I hear this crap all the time, and, on the surface, no It wasn’t that bad of a job. It paid the bills, I enjoyed working with the people there, and I had become someone that the store relied on. But underneath all of that, I was exhausted, and craving something more meaningful than getting the correct ingredients right on someone’s lunch order.

But then people (management) say things like “Hey, we really need you to work this shift this weekend. I know it’s your night off, but we could really use your help” and somehow you’re doing doubles, two-three nights a week, without overtime, and staying a month after turning in your two weeks notice. (Seriously, what the hell was I thinking?) Because they need you, right?

And, don’t get me wrong, I don’t hold anything against them. I made my own choices, and I did need the money. But, it took me a long time to realize that sometimes people need you, a lot more than you need them. Also, conversely, sometimes you need to be loyal to yourself first, more than people need you to be loyal to them.

And you’re probably wondering what the point of this whole post is about. I don’t blame you, I get long winded, I know. But, I’m writing all of this down, so that any of you struggling with the same reservations may find a moment of clarity with your struggles. If I can do that, even for just a few people, then that will be enough for me.

My point is, loyalty is a wonderful quality. It lets you know who is on your side, who you can count on, and what peoples’ true intentions are. However, at a certain point in time, you have to be loyal to yourself, and do what is in your best interest. It’s something I’m only recently getting accustomed to. I don’t like feeling like I’ve let someone down, or that I haven’t given it my best shot. But the irony of this is that because I’m stuck in that mindset, that I’m missing out on the opportunities that truly give me my best chance of being successful.

My advice to you is to get acquainted with your fears, and overcome them. Especially if one of those fears, is fear of the unknown. This fear is purely subject to the thoughts we create about the outcome. Once we realize that and act on it, you and I will be one step closer to achieving our goals. So, here’s to us! 🙂