Do You Already Know What You Need To Do?

Post by Elizabeth Gilbert, relatable at present.

SG x

Dear Ones –

Here I was yesterday in the South Island of New Zealand, where I am visiting my beautiful cousin Melissa. You can’t really see Melissa in this photo (she is the tiny figure on the right) but trust me: She’s here.

Why is Melissa here?

Because four years ago, my cousin quit her good steady job (during a recession, no less!) and left behind her safe and familiar life in her small Midwestern hometown, and moved HERE, to begin a new life, starting from nothing, at the wild ends of the earth.

My cousin didn’t know anyone in this entire hemisphere. She had never before traveled. She feared she was “too old” to change her life. She had always been risk-averse, and the thought of moving across the world was terrifying. But she had been stuck for too long. She was suffocating in her day-to-day existence. She couldn’t take it anymore. She was tired of faking happiness.

Then she realized: “If I don’t face my fears, I will never grow.”

So she did it. She followed some deep, irrational, inner instinct that led her right to this place. She planned to stay in New Zealand for only four months…but she has now stayed for four years. And holy shit, has she grown. She sees this wild ocean every day. She has bungee’d off cliffs, and climbed glaciers, and repelled down mountains, and bought a house, and started a business, and — most amazingly of all — she has conquered her fear of public speaking!

(And oh yeah…she also met and married the love of her life here.)

As Melissa told me today: “I wish I had changed my life earlier, but I didn’t have the courage. I always knew what I needed to do, but for years it made me sick with fear to imagine actually doing it.”

This observation made me think of all the times in my life when I was stuck, and also knew exactly what I needed to do — but I might have put it off for years, because I, too, was sick with fear about actually doing it.

In fact, it made me wonder if maybe we all have some deep inner instinct about our true destiny — about what we need to do next, at every turn — but our fear and insecurity and self-doubt sometimes makes us put it off for years. Or forever.

I do believe that every single time in my life I have ever said in desperation, “I don’t know what I should do!” — in fact, I DID know what I needed to do. I was just too afraid to do it.

And then one day, you’ve had enough.

And then one day — you just freaking go do it.

And that’s the day when the best part of your life actually begins.


Elizabeth Gilbert's photo.

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