A very wise man once said “There’s a difference between knowing the path, and walking the path.“; that man is Morpheus, the trench coat sporting bald man from The Matrix. Though he isn’t real, that quote has always stuck with me. In part because I watched the movie more than 11 times in theaters, but mostly because I’ve found it to be a truism. We may know that doing a particular action would be a good idea, but we tend to avoid the things that scare us, or that we believe may cause us embarrassment. The things that we most fear doing are usually exactly what we should be doing.
I recently spent an afternoon trying out an activity that I had been humming and hawing about for months; downhill mountain biking. It’s something I had been wanting to do for ages, and though the conditions were perfect for it, I kept finding convenient ways to put it off. It wasn’t that I didn’t like the idea of it–quite the contrary, I loved biking as a teenager–what worried me was that I would have trouble with the bike lift. I was scared that I would make a mistake, my bike would be dragged up the mountain with sparks spewing everywhere, and people would laugh. Heck, I would be banned from ever riding a bike again. This didn’t happen of course, and the experience left me doing some self reflection.
I’ve come to realize over the course of my (admittedly) very short life that in terms of sheer payoff, doing the thing that scare us the most produce the best rewards, be they of a monetary, social, or psychological variety. Blasting down that mountain at high speed while thunder crackled in the distance was as much exhilarating as it was tiring, and through that I’ve gained not only a new way to stay in shape, but a source of enjoyment as well.
If there’s something you’ve been wanting to do for a long time but have put off out of fear, try it. Be it talking to the cute girl you’ve been creeping, or that business idea you’ve had mentally shelved for the last 5 years. Chances are the rewards will be far greater than the potential embarrassment, or the small “loss” of time trying out a new idea. Life is short, and with most things, the only thing stopping you from doing the things you want is yourself.