Don’t Be Afraid to Look Your Worst Fear in the Eye

The following is a guest post by my friend Kevin Haggerty. He and his wife recently bought a house and made a baby, just before the school where he worked decided to let him go. Now he’s in transition. Check it out.

A couple of weeks ago, Shawn published a great post about his trepidation over advising someone to follow their dreams.

He talked about “a guy named Kevin.” I’m “that guy.”

Nice to meet you.

As Shawn disclosed in his post, I’m currently in a difficult situation in my life. I was recently given the news that my teaching contract would not be renewed for the approaching Fall, due to budget cuts being made by the school where I’ve taught for six years.

Additionally, I have a very pregnant wife and a house payment. Things are not neat and organized right now. In fact, they’re the furthest thing from that.

In all of this, it probably makes little to no sense to consider doing something dangerous. I should probably forward my resume to as many schools as possible and try to find another teaching job. That would be safe, right?

Only, that isn’t right.

I always thought that was safe, but as soon as enrollment went down, my job went away. It makes me ask: “Was my job ever really safe? And what does safe really mean?”

The two major points I’m currently weighing are:

1)    I don’t want to entrust my financial salvation to another person or committee again. That is only as stable as this moment, which isn’t really all that stable at all. I want to work for myself. I’m sure of that.

and

2)    There will never be a time in my life where following a dream won’t be dangerous. There will always be something to lose, people to disappoint and the possibility of failing.

It’s taken me my whole life to come to the conclusion that I am a writer. It’s as much a part of who I am as my height, my eye color and my Irish temper. I can’t divorce myself from that, and I won’t.

So now comes the scary part: How do I take a dream and a passion and turn that into something that pays my bills?

The truth is that I’m not sure yet.

I know. You probably were expecting something grander and more inspiring, but I’m still figuring it out. In the meantime, I’m reading at every opportunity. I’m talking to awesome friends like Shawn, Chad Gibbs and Leanne Shirtliffe, who have all been very gracious in giving up their time to be resources of wisdom for me.

I listen to podcasts. I continue to seek God’s answers and also the wisdom of those around me, like my parents and friends.

Most importantly of all, I keep writing. It’s the only way to get better. I write at my little blog. I’ve finished one book, and now I’m about to start another.

I’m trying to learn everything I can about working as a freelance writer. None of that is “safe,” but if I can make it work, it means I’ll have a freedom that I’ve long desired.

It’s a trade-off, but I think it will be worth it in the long run.

That’s really it. That’s where I am in my journey. I will still get paychecks from the school through the end of August. I have a retirement fund that should buy me two or three more months after that point.

It’s frightening. The worst case scenario is that the money will run out in a few months. I’ll have a wife, a newborn son and my house will be taken away.

So why post about that? That’s not encouraging at all, right?

First off, I just wanted to be honest. If you’re going through a similar situation, or you may be in the future, I’m doing you no favors by dressing it up. This is my burden. This is real.

Second, and more importantly, I’m sharing because I’ve come to an important realization that I hope will be helpful. Here it is:

My worst case scenario isn’t something I can’t come back from.

Do you get that? If I don’t find my dream source of income by the time the money runs out, I’ll do something. I’ll deliver pizza. I’ll rake leaves. I’ll do whatever I have to, and, you know what? I’ll survive.

If I lose my house, it will be heartrending, but there are other houses. If I have to sell things, I’ll have money again one day and can buy new things.

At the end of the day, we have family who will always take us in. It isn’t my preference, and we will do all we can to avoid that scenario, but this is the secret:

I’ve come face to face with my nightmare, looked it in the eye…and I didn’t blink. I didn’t wince. I didn’t run away.

I’m going to pursue my dream. I’m still figuring out what that means and how I’m going to do it. But I owe it to myself to at least try.

What’s standing in the way of YOU pursuing YOUR dream?

Answer the question, folks. Then head over to Kevin’s blog and take a look around. While you’re there, pick up a free copy of his E-book, The Idiot’s Guide to the Galaxy.

28 Replies to “Don’t Be Afraid to Look Your Worst Fear in the Eye”

  1. I’m excited for you, Kevin. What you’re doing IS scary and risky, but you have the talent…and more importantly, the determination.

    Praying for you.

  2. I’m convinced that what is standing in most of our ways is ourselves. We block ourselves from seeking our dreams. We just need a little encouragement, sometimes, to get on with it. Or the decisiins of others.

    1. You’re totally right. We like to be comfortable. Sometimes, we have to have our world shaken up, in order to finally chase after our happiness.

  3. Thanks, Kevin. I can relate to where you are coming from as I resigned my paying job and yesterday was my first day working full time as an abolitionist. Exciting, purposeful, fulfilling – just not something I have ever seen listed in the classifieds.

  4. “There will never be a time in my life where following a dream won’t be dangerous. There will always be something to lose, people to disappoint and the possibility of failing.” So, so true! I’m glad you’re following your dream. This reminds me of a fantastic Oswald Chambers quote: “To be certain of God is to be uncertain in all our ways. You never know what a day may bring. This is generally said with a sigh of sadness; it should rather be an expression of breathless expectation.”

    1. You’re so right. We should be excited about the future and not clutching on to the safe past. It’s a transition I’m still struggling with, but I’m trying to be transparent along the way. :)

  5. Great post, Kevin. I love the point that you make here: “My worst case scenario isn’t something I can’t come back from.” That one bit of knowledge is what has bolstered Shawn and I through our crazy adventure over the past 2 1/2 years. You are doing a brave and wonderful thing, and I wish you all the best.

    1. Ah, the famous Maile! Nice to meet your acquaintance. I have a ton of respect for you, because I know how hard it can be on the wife and mother when daddy is dream-chasing. The two of you make a great team, and it’s so great to see how God is blessing your family. The Smuckers inspire me. Thanks for your well-wishes. :)

  6. About 3 years ago, well 2 years and 11 months, I was informed that my position would no longer be available. At the last possible minute and when the state was on a hiring freeze, I was no longer teaching. I had a 4 month old baby and I was the one with his insurance. The weird thing was that I wasn’t worried. I knew God had a plan. I started applying for positions in order to keep unemployment. I was applying for jobs that I thought I wouldn’t hate. And the strangest thing happened, I got a phone call from a middle school that I didn’t even apply to. I never wanted to be a middle school teacher, but I thought I would try it and see how it goes. It went very well! This is my 3rd year there and I love it. I have found where God wants me to be. It isn’t always easy and it wasn’t what I imagined for myself. It’s actually much more than I thought. I don’t know what else God has in store, but I’m following him because his plan is better than mine. I’ll be praying for you guys.

  7. Wow, this line gave me the shivers, literally: “My worst case scenario isn’t something I can’t come back from.” So true.

    One day, this post will be part of your success story. I will purchase it on Amazon. :)

  8. Kevin, you continue to rock it, even while in the middle of a stormy sea on a rocking boat with a sleeping Saviour. And why does He sleep? Because He has it all under control. (I don’t — I’m one of the panicking disciples, in case you were wondering.)

    Thank you for being honest about your situation and your fears. Your courage, your faith is bolstering my own. Thanks!

  9. Kevin, I admire your resolve to venture out into uncharted territory and do what you feel you should be doing.. I’m glad you didn’t sugarcoat your situation and your disclosure of possibly running out of money if something doesn’t happen before then. To me, it would be a scary place to be in especially anticipating the birth of a child. I’m confident that things will work out well for you. What a testimony to God’s provision and faithfulness that will be!

  10. Kevin, this is one of my favorite posts of yours yet. Being someone who has recently chased a dream and is currently living with their parents I can say that it’s scarier to never pursue your dream then it is to go for it. I’d rather fail then never try.

  11. Great post Kevin. I think we’re living pretty similar lives… Pursuing the writing thing, babies on the way, facing our fears, etc. I can relate to a lot of what you’re written. I was actually thinking of sending this link to you, but I’ll just drop it in here: http://janefriedman.com/2012/04/11/peter-bowerman-qa/

    Hang in there. I think of writing like this, the more I’m rejected, the more chances I’ll have of being accepted!

  12. I’m excited for you, Kevin! Choosing to follow our dreams is one of the best choices we can make simply because we can stop asking ourselves “what if?” There aren’t any guarantees but that’s part of the adventure. I look forward to seeing what happens next for you.

    1. “What if” can be scary, but there’s always the flipside where we ask, “What if I never try?” “What if I settle and regret it later?” There will always be questions. Sometimes, we have to leap before we know what’s on the other side. Scary! Exciting! :)

  13. Wow what a story , there is no more safe , secure job out there anymore , but if you are looking to live the life that you have always wanted here is a start go to http://www.the-team.biz/39800512 and start the 90 day mental fitness challenge and watch the video God bless as you follow your dreams and your passion

  14. So inspiring. You make me want to pursue my own dreams all the more — inside the writing world and out. Keeping you and your family in my prayers and excited to see what God’s got for you around the bend. It’s gonna be great, and I can’t wait to read about it someday.

  15. I’m so proud of you. You may not remember, but when this nightmare at school was unfolding, I told you that from the time you were a little boy I knew that God made you for the extraordinary. You were made to write, it’s in your DNA. The “leap of faith” can’t be calculated or calibrated, but if one is made for this it isn’t optional. Not everyone can pay the price, obviously you can. By the way, I am so impressed by the wisdom of your blogger friends. You are blessed!

  16. Kevin, you probably don’t rememebr me, but I’m pretty sure we had come classes together in college (were you a COMS major?). Anyway, I’m sorry to hear about what’s happening with you right now but am encouraged by your perspective and your determination to follow your dream, whatever shape that takes.

    To answer your question, time is my number one conflict with pursuing my dreams. I’m a creative type, like you, and I try to sieze every moment I can to write, blog or compose music–to create. But it never seems to be enough between my job (for which I am profoundly grateful, even though it’s not a creative occupation), family time and sleep. When I can, I usually sacrifice sleep to get things done.

    That’s the shape my creative dream has taken so far: staying up late and/or rising early to write/compose, while devoting the same amount of time to work and family. It’s slow going, but it’s going.

    Good luck and godspeed on this part of your journey, Kevin. I can’t wait to see what happens. Oh, and I’ll be checking out your ebook as well.

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