What If? Flipping Fear On Its Head & Telling Self-Doubt to Fuck Off
When I was 22, I watched something that made me feel understood in a way that I had never felt understood before that moment. It was a two-part documentary on young people who were living and struggling with OCD - just like me. The series focused on an OCD bootcamp, with participants coming out of their comfort zones and seeing if treatment could be beneficial.
But there was one scene in particular that has stuck with me.
In this scene, the group are sat around a bonfire, and the leader hands everyone a temporary tattoo to wear on their wrist. The tattoo is question mark and the point is this: remind yourself regularly, what If?
Now, if you know someone who has OCD or if you’ve struggled/struggle with OCD, you’ll know the level of creativity and thought that goes into thinking of worse case scenarios, imagining how wrong things could end up and how relentless those thoughts could be.
So at the time, this whole tattoo thing sounded pretty counter-intuitive and a bit fucking cruel.
But then I started to see it the other way.
There’s a flip side of the question. A flip side that asks you to engage in the tantalising idea of something actually working out and actually happening for the better.
A flip side that I hadn’t even considered. What if something bad didn’t happen? What if something great happened?
Over the years, my OCD has ebbed and flowed in its severity and its relentlessness, and I’ve started to see this What If question in a much larger context than just me and my OCD.
One I’m sure you can relate to.
A context of putting yourself out in the world, saying your dreams out loud, creating things and trying to make the world a brighter place.
And here’s what I started to realise.
Everyone gets scared when it comes to trying or even wanting to put good shit into the world - especially when it includes a huge dollop of you.
As a creative doer, maker and world shaker, you have a huge imagination. A huge far-reaching imagination that can conjure up all types of scenarios where you think you could really fuck up.
You ask yourself, what if it fails? What if it doesn’t work out? What if it isn’t good enough? What if everyone hates me? What if I hear crickets? What if I’m not good enough? What if I fail? What if I have to start over?
What if, what if, what if.
So today I invite you to the other side.
Let’s leave the fear of
the Death Eaters and join
the hope of Dumbledore’s
What if you are good enough? What if you are the only person who can really do this? What if you do have something incredibly valuable to say?
What if you create the thing that the world needs? What if you succeed? What if people turn up because you’re saying the exact thing they need to hear? What if your dreams could happen and you started to chase them?
What if instead of falling flat on your face, you fly? What if your vision comes alive? What if the work you so long to do could make you a sustainable living? What if there’s more to life and you’ve been right all along? What if you can find a way to balance your limitations with what really lights you up?
What if you could make the world a brighter place? What if you could face the self-doubt and stand tall? What if that tribe you’ve always wanted could exist?
It all starts with those two deceptively simple words.
Taking them to heart with a bit of self belief and really intentionally asking yourself, what if?
It all starts with a new lens and a scoop of courage.
And it all starts with you.
What if, my friend. What if?