Fear and the Nontraditional Student

You break out in a sweat. Your heart starts beating really fast. You feel like you want to run away. Run! Run!

I’ve been there. Have you? You really want to do something, maybe go back to school, and you are afraid.

You are afraid you won’t do a good job. You are afraid you WILL do a good job. You are afraid of the unknown. You are afraid of staying where you are. You are afraid of change. You are afraid you won’t fit in. You are afraid you are making a big mistake.

And these are just a FEW of the things you are afraid of!

You also ask yourself, “What if something goes wrong?” or “What if I make a mistake? Or “What if I can’t do the work?”

On the negative side, fear just feels bad. It can be easier just to make the feeling stop by holding on to the same old life and the same old decisions.

On the positive side, it can be good to be afraid. It makes you think about the fear and what you are afraid of. Then you can move past it, and move ahead.

I believe that it is normal to ask questions and to be afraid of new things.

One reason fear arises is that the unknown is scary. The known feels safe.

Many people would rather stick with the status quo and just keep life as it is, even if their life or their job isn’t exactly what they want. It’s just easier not to rock the boat. At least they KNOW the life they have right now. Going back to school brings along with it an unknown future. And that is just plain scary.

The unknown future may bring a new job too. People ask, “What will that first job be? Will I even like it?” At least they KNOW the job they have now… even if it doesn’t make them happy.

Do you fit in this category? Do you want to go back to school, but are afraid of the changes this would bring?

Randi Bussen, in her article, Career Change/Reinvention Can Be Scary, also believes that fear can be a normal thing. She has some steps that “help you move to the next stage in your career and life.” (And get past your fear). She suggests that fear is a “normal part of the reinvention process.” She believes that you need to look at your fear and ask yourself, what is the worst thing that could happen?

Often, what is imagined as the worst possible thing that could happen actually isn’t all that bad. Or it is something you will be able to deal with and move beyond.

And what about failure?

Failure isn’t just not being able to achieve what you wanted to achieve. It can be a stepping stone to new knowledge about yourself, Randi says.

I agree with this. I believe that it’s better to go ahead and try, than to always regret not trying.

Will you journey through your fear to go back to school? Do you know someone else who is doing this?

My advice? Don’t let fear hold you back from discovering what you can do, and learning more about yourself. It can be a wonderful journey. And you will be able to say, “I did it!”

Some good quotes

Here are some good quotes to help overcome fear:

It's never too late to be what you might have been. - George Elliot

Do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain. - R.W. Emerson

I have accepted fear as a part of life... specifically the fear of change… I have gone ahead despite the pounding in the heart that says: turn back. - Erica Jong

Nontraditionally Yours,
Elizabeth (Betsy) Sheppard

Oh - and how do YOU deal with fear? Comment below and let me know.


Overcome Fear and Improve your Self-Esteem

Overcoming Fear of Change (from Jobhunt.org)


Some other Nontrad links:

The Nontrad site and blog
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