Choose a career that scares you
February 1, 2021
I quit the Daily Illini my freshman year because I was scared. As a result, I missed out on two years of incredible experiences, until I decided to face my fears and return. But I will never get those two years back, and I certainly regret letting fear make that choice for me.
My easiest moments have been my least memorable. I don’t remember every single calm, boring moment. I remember the time I was eight and I had been scared by a thunderstorm, only to learn after it was over that I didn’t have to be so terrified of a little rain. At 14, I was afraid of transferring schools, only to then love that experience more than anything. Fear, I have learned, is what we feel when something important to us is at stake. It means we care, and caring is good. Caring is what makes you good at what you do.
People always tell us to do what we love; we should follow our dreams and pick a career that we would adore every single day. But choosing a job you love doesn’t necessitate choosing a job that’s easy, or even always fun. What if we were to choose a job we’re most afraid of? What if we were to seek out a job we think we could love even when we would end up absolutely hating it? Maybe we should use fear to give ourselves the chance to grow and face our anxieties, to strengthen our pride in ourselves, to come out of the other end a better person, to pick a job to love and to cherish in sickness and in health.
Fear is what drives us to do better, to be better. But only when we don’t let it inhibit us. Fear can control us, or it can open doors for us. We’re often afraid of change and afraid of reaching outside our comfort zones, but it is only after we push ourselves to face our fears that we can experience growth. I’m not anyone who can tell someone what to and what not to be afraid of; I don’t have the wisdom to really guide anyone on anything. On top of that, I’m still scared of a lot of things. Like jellyfish. But I remind myself every day to not be afraid of hard work, of new things, of change, of the unknown, of things that naturally scare me … of jellyfish. If I let fear guide all of my decisions, I wouldn’t be here; I wouldn’t be writing this, I probably wouldn’t be at this university and I would’ve missed out on a lot of opportunities.
So as you traverse the road to your destined career, look at the opportunities that scare you as some of the best things to come your way. Use the butterflies in your stomach to propel you forward and as a reminder that what you are doing is important to you. Something real and something momentous is at stake for you. Fear is a sign that something in your life could become better than it already is, and I truly believe that facing your fears as you find yourself and build your career will only make you more successful. Don’t be afraid of fear; it means you’re on the right path.
Shivali is a senior in AHS.