Facing Fear

I originally shared this on The 3:30 Project – a blog that I collaborate on with two of my dear friends. This week, we all shared our thoughts on graduation and commencement, but I wanted to share this post here as well because I love this speech so much, and has been so helpful to me in having faith to continue my journey as a small business owner.

In 2014, Jim Carrey gave the Commencement address at the Maharishi University of Management. (The Maharishi and the form of meditation, TM or transcendental meditation, he developed and even Carrey himself each have their own fascinating background and baggage that I would consider separately from this speech)

Part of me wants to post a link to his speech and leave it at that. Carrey’s speech is so vulnerable – he asks questions like “would people still like me if I wasn’t being ridiculous?” It had never occurred to me that a man who would talk through his butt on camera might worry about what other people thought of him. Apparently, he has insecurities, too.

The line that has stuck with me, and continues to echo in my mind when I want to give up and “get a real job” is this:

“I learned many great lessons from my father, not the least of which is that you can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance at doing what you love.”

You can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance at doing what you love.

Owning a small business has been the most terrifying undertaking of my life. For the first year that we were in business, either my husband or I would have what we came to refer to as “the Monday Meltdown.” One of us would become irrationally convinced that we were doomed to failure. I would ask if I should just give up on this and apply for graduate school or go get a real job. My husband would listen. We’d think about it. We’d agree to give it a week, go back to work, and the feeling would pass for another week.

I constantly second guessed whether teaching Martial Arts – a career that I only had the courage to enter because I entered the job market during the Great Recession and I hadn’t been able to get a “real job” – was good enough for me. After all, I had graduated from Vanderbilt University (ranked #15 in the Nation in this year’s US News and World Report) magna cum laude with a double major. If I could do that, I could do anything. But…if I could do anything…why would I do this?

But Jim Carrey’s advice rang so true: You can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance at doing what you love. He goes on to say, “so many of us choose our path based on fear disguised as practicality.” It’s true. On those days when I would feel consumed by fear, I just longed for the security of a paycheck where it was someone else’s job to face the bank account.

But as I saw layoffs, industries become obsolete and people replaced by robots, I realized – maybe the real risk was in believing that getting a “real job” was more secure than owning my business.

Would giving up on my little business really help? Should I go ahead and give up because I was afraid of failing? Because I was afraid my job title wasn’t impressive?

I’ll leave you with one of his final thoughts. One that has given me the courage to continue in the face of fear:

 “You are ready and able to do beautiful things in this world. You will only ever have two choices. Love and Fear, and don’t ever let Fear turn you against your playful heart.”

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