I’ve spent my whole life being afraid.

And I’m not talking about all of my little fears like how I’m afraid of spiders or how I can’t even go through a tunnel slide because I’m too afraid of small spaces.

I’m talking about a bigger fear. A fear that keeps me from living.

For example, since I was twelve years old one of my biggest dreams in life was to go to college at Duke. It didn’t matter that at the time I hardly knew anything about Duke. Duke was a big college, smart people went to Duke, and therefore, I also wanted to go to school there.

By the time I was a senior and it was time to apply to college, I didn’t feel quite as confident about the whole situation as I did when I was twelve. I knew I wouldn’t be accepted. I never applied.

My sophomore year at Southwestern, I desperately wanted to be on the dance team. The day of try-outs, I showed up, stretched, and starting learning the routine. Somewhere in the middle of all this, I psyched myself out. I walked out without even finishing.

A little bit of fear, a few nerves, that’s healthy and normal. Fear that is so debilitating you don’t do the things you want to do is not.

As I stand on the brink of the real world, I’m facing a lot of these fears again.

There are so many things that I want to do, so many jobs that sound fun and interesting. But when it comes down to it, I’m afraid that I’m not good enough, I don’t have enough experience, and I won’t get hired. It’s easier to not apply than to get rejected.

Think of all the things I could be missing.

Maybe I wouldn’t have been accepted to Duke, but what if I was? All I would have lost was a $50 application fee.

Maybe I’m not much of a dancer and I didn’t make the dance team, but what if I did? All it would have taken to find out was a few hours of my time.

Good things came in spite of my fears. Instead of Duke, I came to Southwestern. Instead of dancing, I started writing for the Collegian (which, by the way, I was also almost too afraid to try).

I’ve built my self-confidence over the last few years and am not nearly as afraid of putting myself out there as I used to be. And it’s a good thing because one of these days I’m going to let a great opportunity pass me by.

The worst case scenario is never as bad as we make it out to be. So what if we get turned down for a job, don’t make the team, get a C in the class or get turned down by that guy? Taking these chances is a lot better than looking back at life wondering, “What if?”