By: Grace Bettino
A few years ago, I found myself 5 years into my post-college life feeling … comfortable. I had settled into a good job, found an apartment I loved and was, generally, pretty happy. But, a little part of me still felt like something was missing.
Our entire youth and formative years revolve around education. Decades of our lives are focused solely on learning, developing — growing. And then, one day, you’re spit out the other end of your college education. And that growth? It just stops — if you let it. So many of us choose a mediocre life of certainty because we fear failure. It’s human nature! Safe is easy, cozy and, well, safe. But when I took a hard look at what I wanted out of life and made this realization for myself, it terrified me. But I’m not the type of person who makes rash decisions. Like, at all.
So, this isn’t a story about someone who quit their cushy day job to travel the world because “money can’t buy happiness!” That’s not real to me. And again, no rash decisions! I will say, I’m lucky to have a day job that is flexible and encourages me to explore my interests. (But if you want to pay me to travel, I’d be up for it.)
This is a story about how I stopped feeling boring, started taking chances and decided I would never stop learning again. Full disclosure: I’m smack dab in the middle of my story, and most days I’m pretty sure I have no idea what I’m doing.
Here’s the thing about self-development as an adult. It’s hard. Contrary to popular belief, opportunity does not just come knocking. Most of us have to chase it down, tackle it and hold onto it with everything we’ve got.
I’ve found that finding opportunity starts by saying “yes” to something that scares the hell out of you. Before you turn something down, ask yourself why you’re saying “no.” I find my excuses fall into one of these 3 categories:
“I don’t know how.”
Maybe not yet. But it’s ok to say yes and figure it out as you go. Ask yourself, “Is this an obstacle or a catapult?” Acknowledge it’s going to be hard, and then go for it for with everything you’ve got. I’m not above a night of googling a million questions just so I can get a handle on it.
“I don’t have time.”
Yes — you do. It’s just not a priority. What really matters? If this is something you want, reorganize your priorities and find the time. Don’t sit on Instagram for an hour. Turn off the TV. Sometimes it’s not fun working 15-hour days but know that you won’t have to forever. Every opportunity you take will propel you forward.
“I’m scared I’ll fail.”
Why yes, you will! Fail 874 times, get up 875 … or something like that, right? This is the hardest one to talk yourself through because failing hurts. And it doesn’t help that we live in a world of highlight reels. It’s hard not to scroll through your feed and compare yourself to the perfection you see on social media. Remind yourself that it’s not real then block it out. Own your failures and use them as stepping stones to success. Every step you take, whether it’s a misstep or not, is part of your journey and makes you who you are.
And I’ll be honest, saying “yes” is a much easier decision when you surround yourself with people who believe in you. It’s so important to find these people in your life. (And be a cheerleader for your people too!) These believers can come in the form of industry friends, mentors, close friends or a significant other — but it’s extra special when they come in the form of a business relationship. There’s nothing more valuable than finding people who are willing to take a risk on you and help you grow. My favorite connections have been made with startups like catchfire, WholeMe and Alchemy365 . It’s companies like these with fire in their eyes, relentless drive and constant innovation that make the future seem terrifying — in the best way!
So, give it a try. Be gutsy. Take risks. Make mistakes. Learn. Never stop growing. And I’ll be here to help cheer you on!
Grace Bettino (@gbettino) is an Art Director by day and a freelance creative by night. She lives in the North Loop of Minneapolis in a tiny apartment with too many plants. In her spare time, she’s usually near water and always looking for the sun.