As I watch my nine-month-old crawl, without abandon, into every hazard of our not-yet-childproofed apartment, I marvel at his fearlessness. He pulls himself up on unsteady surfaces, comes close to crashing into furniture, and tastes everything in his path. Sometimes he will fall, but that doesn’t prevent him from continuing to explore.
While my son would benefit from some instinct for self-preservation, we as adults often sway the other way. We can let fear prevent us from taking new opportunities. In 2016, I found myself paralyzed by fear and self-doubt. I was slogging long work weeks at a job that I was successful, but unhappy in, neglecting people and causes that were important to me. Days turned into weeks, and weeks into years. I was stuck, afraid to try something new.
I hit an inflection point. As part of our premarital counseling, my husband and I were challenged by a wise rabbi to write text for our Ketubah. We devoted more concerted thought to what we wanted from our shared lives. It was the beginning of us living more intentionally, throwing our fears to the wayside, disrupting our routine, and embracing new experiences.
Just six months after we got married, we made a drastic change, one that I never in my wildest dreams thought my type-a self would do. We quit our day jobs, put our stuff in storage, and embarked on a giant adventure—a 16-month national park road trip—while also starting a clean energy business together. We faced numerous mental challenges. Was spending every waking hour with my husband a good idea? Would we work well together professionally? How do we navigate crossing paths with people of differing views? Then there were the physical obstacles, like an 18-mile day hike where we were running off the trail to beat sunset.
As I take stock of this last year, I am reminded that it is easy to resettle into old routines. I reflect on the instances where fear held me back from new experiences. I won’t play the what-if game and posit what would have happened had I made different choices. Instead, I’ll take a cue from my son. I’ll make more of an effort to overcome my fears and step out of my comfort zone. That is when grand adventures happen.