Maybe I had morbid friends, but this was a question I got a lot in high school and college. I think the first time I was asked I didn’t have an answer. It wasn’t something I thought about. But as time went on I did have an answer: ending up alone in life.
Yes, being a shy introvert in a world designed for extroverts, a guy who guarded his emotions like they were gold in Fort Knox, and a guy with an abysmal record with the ladies, it was a fair worry to have. What if I don’t find someone to share my misery with?
As my 20’s continued and no solution to my worst fear was in sight, something crazy happened. I started the Happiness Plunge process. I started looking in the mirror trying to figure out the person staring back at me. I started asking myself the questions I had always avoided up until that point. I started understanding myself and things began to change.
What was once a fear became an asset
As I crept closer and closer to the edge of that proverbial cliff, ready to take the plunge into what I now call The Happy Nomad Tour, but at the time was a collection of ideas written on paper, I discovered that what was once a fear became an asset – something to be grateful for.
I was single. I could do whatever I wanted with my life without consulting anyone else. I was free. I had almost no responsibilities. I was empowered to pursue my dream!
You could argue that if I were married or in a relationship that maybe I still could have taken the plunge. Maybe she would have come with me, etc. It’s all valid. But the point is that for the first time in my life I stared down my worst fear and realized it was not only an artificial construct in my mind, it wasn’t all that scary. In finding myself I no longer felt lonely.
Now that I’m doing what I want to be doing with my life, that I’m happy and optimistic, I am not looking to share my misery with someone. I don’t really have any misery to offer. Instead, I’m quite happy with my single and “alone” status. I’ve found happiness within myself whereas before I was looking for it in other people. If I meet someone similarly happy and content, who makes me happier and brings new joy to my life, then I’d be happy to spend the rest of my life with her and maybe even multiply our awesomeness in the form of children. But I’m not actively looking for that. Instead, I’m quite content with the level of happiness I’ve achieved on my own given where I came from. I’m focused on growing that happiness, contributing to society in a positive way, and being the best happy nomad I can be.
I share this story because all too often we have irrational fears that guide our lives down unnecessary and unhealthy paths. In my old way of thinking the only way to conquer this fear would have been to find a wife. By opening my mind and challenging myself, not just with regard to this but with regard to everything, I saw my greatest fear in a new light. I saw it for what it was – a giant waste of time and energy. I saw how it changed me, how it prevented me from really seeing who I was when I stared at myself in the mirror. I recognized the power fear can have and overcame it.
Today if someone asked me what my greatest fear is I think I’d be back to square one, not really knowing as I haven’t given it much thought. I guess it would be something like not achieving all I want to in life. I can live with that as my greatest fear though.