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Advice on fear from an astronaut

“Do what scares you. Do the things that might feel like they are out of your reach, they are intriguing you, they are drawing you in but you don’t know for sure if you can do it. Go after that thing. Not only will you maximally impact the world, but you’ll get the most personal fulfillment out of it, and use that as a springboard to just keep doing the same thing. And I also say support the people around you. When we all care about everyone’s well-being, that everyone is pursuing the dreams that are important to them, we rise to whatever occasion is before us and we do so as a group.”- Christina Koch

Christina Koch recently returned to earth after spending 328 days in space. The longest amount of time a woman has ever been in spaceflight. Talk about fear. I’ve always assumed astronauts, or other people where their lives are at extraordinary risk every moment, are exempt from fear. They are these superhumans who know what’s at risk but don’t experience that fear. But what Christina Koch says is completely relatable. “Do the things that might feel just out of your reach.” Can’t this apply to so many things? Things you want so badly and you can feel and visualize it happening, but then taking that first step and finding success just doesn’t feel possible. Perhaps a needed lifestyle change, setting boundaries with friends or family or coworkers, getting a new job, entering the dating world. How often do the “what ifs” get the way? A fear of wasting time or money. A fear of letting yourself or someone else down. A fear of failing.

What she describes is incredibly powerful. “A springboard to keep doing the same thing”. Once we make that first step and find success, it’s easier to make the next step. And then the next. And set backs will happen, no doubt, but recovering from them is easier when you know what success feels like. And once the final goal is reached, it will be easier to set and meet another, maybe even bigger, goal.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. That first step. Making a decision and moving forward, knowing there’s no turning back. My heart races a little just thinking about it. Saying the words out loud, determining to commit this time. It’s terrifying. What scares you? What is that thing that you want so badly, but fear is holding you back from? What does that fear feel like and is it worth it to just do that thing anyway?

What was it like for Christina Koch? The decision to literally leave the world behind and live in space for a year. Can you imagine? But she identified her fear, was determined to find success, and did what scared her. And you can too.

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