This morning, my friend, Shannon reminded me of Mark Twain’s quote: I have spent most of my life worrying about things that never happened.
We each have different alarm settings. Some of us worry a lot more than others. Some of us worry about specific things and not others.
When I was younger, I suffered from shyness which has now been pathologized as social anxiety. Anxiousness about specific social situations, such as public speaking, meeting new people and speaking up in class kept me from acting, pushing my limits and most importantly (at the time), asking out the prettiest girls.
When I realized how my own anxiety was holding me back from achieving my potential and expressing myself, I forced myself to confront my fears and act in spite of them. I recognized that I had more to lose by not acting and doing what I wanted and needed to do.
By choosing to take that bold step forward – rather than procrastinating the act itself and pussyfooting around where I really needed to go, I have traveled beyond my wildest dreams. I’ve done hours of live TV and radio, chaired many meetings, deliberated tense ethics consultations, acted decisively in medical emergencies, taught medical students and my medical colleagues, and presented keynote presentations for many worthwhile organizations.
By focusing on my ideals and causes bigger than my own little ego, I’ve learned to leapfrog over my personal anxieties and do what needs to be done.
As Mark Twain pointed out, we can consume our precious hours in worry only to discover that what we feared most didn’t come to pass or wasn’t nearly as fearful as we anticipated.