On What Ifs, Positive Fear, and Passionate Living

from here

Today, in my Orientation to Psych class, my professor was telling us about what it takes to make it into graduate school and to get a Masters or PhD. Now, as someone who needs to get her Masters and really should get a PhD or PsyD to do anything specific in the field, grad school is a given. Today’s talk left me feeling a little more prepared, but mostly just scared senseless. I mean…

What if I don’t get into a good school?

What if I don’t get into a school at all?

What if I can’t pay for it?

What if, whilst taking my Writtens or Orals (or their equivalent), I get a question I have absolutely no idea how to answer?

What if I can’t find a subject for my dissertation?

I think we ask ourselves these sorts of questions a lot. Well, not necessarily these questions–we aren’t all freaked out about grad school–but the “what ifs”. Some of them are pretty silly. For example, if I couldn’t find a subject I thought was important enough to do the research required for a dissertation, then Psych is not the field for me and that worry is irrelevant. Still, some of the “what ifs” make sense. It is a very real concern that I may not be able to pay my way through grad school. So what if I can’t?

Well, then I can’t.

“What ifs” are a waste of time not necessarily because they won’t happen, but because you can’t do anything about them. All we can do is prepare ourselves as much as possible for the task ahead of us, then tackle it. Exuberantly. Without question. With passion.

There are two things I’ve learned about life lately, and though I have a long way to go, I think they have to be two of the most important things I’ll ever learn.

Here’s the first one.


It doesn’t mean you have to love everything you do. Brushing our teeth isn’t usually ecstasy-inducing, but it’s something that needs to happen. What it means is that everything you do should be done to get yourself into a life you are wild about. I don’t mean a life you can tolerate or a life where you’ll always be comfortable. I mean a life you are truly, madly, head-over-toenails in love with.

I can tell you now that it won’t be easy to get to that kind of life. You’ll have to do things that make you feel awkward, and change things that hurt to change, and push yourself harder than ever. You have to find out what you’re made of. But if you ask me, that’s what life’s about, anyway. Finding what you’re made of, what you can contribute, what your purpose is…and then fulfilling it.

The second thing I’ve learned is what relates most to what we discussed in class today, which is simply that if what you’re doing doesn’t make you afraid on some level, it isn’t worth doing.

Think about it. Getting a new boyfriend or girlfriend. Your first kiss. Your first day at college, or your first day on the job, or even getting a new haircut. It all comes with a certain degree of fear, from a tickle in your stomach to a writhing pit of snakes there. If we were never nervous, it would mean that we were following the same routine all the time, and the same routine…well, it produces the same results. You can’t grow that way; you stagnate. And really, who wants to live a stagnant life?

well, of course

To tag on to the end of this entry, I have a little bit of shameless advertising. Don’t worry; it’s not for me.

Miss Gala Darling has declared February the month of Radical Self-Love. She’ll be posting articles throughout the month about how to, well, have radical self-love. Gala is a wonderful source of inspiration, and I’m sure she’ll put out some goodies. I don’t agree with everything she says, but I do highly recommend her.

Click on the picture to read more about it at iCiNG!



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2 responses to “On What Ifs, Positive Fear, and Passionate Living

  1. Alex

    The same thoughts terrify me, on most days, and we’re barely into our undergrad! Your post is a good one as always, and offers excellent advice! 🙂

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