Don’t be afraid to take the next step

Gwen Randall-Young

Don’t be afraid to take a big step. You can’t cross a chasm in two small jumps”. ~ David Lloyd George

Sometimes fear stops us from trying new things or taking a risk. If we stop to ask ourselves what we really are afraid of, it is often what I call a “shadow fear”. By this, I mean it is not a fear of something that might actually cause distress in our lives, but rather an immobilization caused by the discomfort of really putting ourselves out there.
Deep down, it may have to do with lacking the courage to truly be ourselves, rather than being who others have expected us to be. It is as though we have lived our lives according to a script from which it may feel difficult to deviate. Perhaps there is a fear of what others might think. There may be a fear of distinguishing ourselves, after years of trying to conform.
How often have we said, or heard others say, “I wish I could do that but….” Years ago a friend was showing me her amazing art portfolio. I told her I wished that I could do art, but I had never had any training. She said that one should forget all that training! I was afraid I would make a “mistake.” She countered that there are no mistakes. As she showed me her art, each painting was associated with an experience. One she did after visiting the Great Barrier Reef. Another she did while going through a divorce. That was when I realized art was about expression, rather than making a picture.
Slowly and clumsily, I started doing art. I started with a newsprint pad and pencil crayons from Walmart! I have continued to do art for decades because it is fun for me to experiment and play. It has evolved farther than I could have imagined.
The truth is that we never stop growing, and it goes against nature to suppress that growth. It is our instincts or yearnings that lead us forward, so we should listen to them. Whether they invite us to try a new creative outlet or sport activity, to initiate a friendship, ask someone out, volunteer our time, or run for office, we should consider saying “yes.”
What is being offered by this intuitive voice is a new path. There will be gifts and learnings on that new path that we would otherwise not experience. If you must fear something, fear missing out on all the doors that will remain closed if you do not act. There is nothing to fear but our own inhibitions, so go ahead and leap!
Gwen Randall-Young is an author and award-winning psychologist. For permission to reprint this article, or to obtain books, CDs or MP3s, visit