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Frolicking With The Two Fears

Trouble ahead, trouble behind.

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There are two contending and contradictory fears that propel us forward and hold us back.

The first fear is that by continuing doing what you’re doing, by settling for what is proven and stable — what is already on the plate in front of you — that you will miss out on better opportunities to either move ahead or seize a much bigger dream. This fear provokes a proverbial house cleaning: a razing of the gates, a storming ahead to take whatever opportunities come to you, and a willingness to burn your boats without a contingency plan.

The second fear is that trying to get something better you lose what you have now, you gamble away what you’ve earned, you go back to square one. When corralled in the bosom of this fear, you sit tight, play it safe, and miss out on potential big rewards. This fear leaves you feeling discontent, feeling that you never fully actualized your potential, that you accepted a meager payout rather than going for the jackpot of life. It’s the fear that begets regret.

These contradictory fears drive our relationships — this person kind of sucks but I fear that I would otherwise be alone — they impact our careers — My dream is to be a ___ but being a ___ pays the bills. I fear that I will be unsatisfied if I look back 30 years from now and I’m still doing this …

What’s really interesting about these fears is that you tend to feel them both at the same time.

For the first time in my life I have to admit that I’m scared.

Before I never had anything; I had nothing to lose so my hunger could lead to recklessness with little consequence. Now I have something, I’ve built something, I’ve achieved something — something that I could lose if I don’t tread carefully / something that is going to drive an ever increasing feeling discontent if I don’t burn my boats and plod on ahead.


Filed under: Travel Philosophy

About the Author:

I am the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. I’ve been traveling the world since 1999, through 90 countries. I am the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China and have written for The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3689 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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VBJ is currently in: Papa Bay, Hawaii

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