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A Story of Fear and Balls

The following story is based on true events.

Once upon a time, there was a group of students living in a beach house in the United States.

They had a decent job with a reliable paycheck, extremely affordable housing, and awesome roommates. However, their amazing house was situated in a small resort town without any meaningful venues, even public transportation, so it might as well have been in the middle of nowhere. For ambitious and adventure-loving young adults, this was a big problem.

So every night, after coming home from their shift, students would gather in the backyard, drink beer, socialize, and contemplate their situation. They would discuss ways to find a better job, better housing, maybe even move to a more exciting place for the rest of the summer. They would laugh through the night, thinking of what life would be like.

As soon as the morning rolled around, they would put those thoughts out of their heads, say “it’s not that bad”, and start walking 40 minutes to work in the scorching sun.

But one of them, Student X, couldn’t accept this reality and just couldn’t put those thoughts out of his mind. After less than a week of joining the group, he had gotten depressed. America is supposed to be the land of opportunity, yet he didn’t feel satisfied with what he had. Not because he was ungrateful, but because he wanted to achieve more.

Exactly 7 days after his arrival, he announced that, as soon as he finds something better, he’s leaving. If anybody else wants to leave with him, they’re welcome to come.

Then something strange happened. People who were always complaining about their current situation were now urging him not to leave, listing all the benefits of staying. They called him crazy, told him he should just “shut up and be grateful for what he’s got”, or laughed at his idea thinking it was unrealistic. There were a few who got inspired by his bravado, so they decided to take the leap with him. If nothing else, sticking together is going to be easier than going at it alone.

As the new dawn arrived, Student X had, for the first time in a long time, woken up with a smile on his face and a new passion in his heart. He was ready for change.

Talk the talk or walk the walk

For the following days, the energy at the house was high. It was a constant clash of students motivated to leave and others who wanted to but were afraid. Each group believed the other was crazy. Unaffected by the petty squabbles around him, Student X was focused on crawling every area of the web to find a better life in a larger nearby city.

He checked numerous job listings, housing websites, Facebook groups… any and all sources of information that could help him. As the days passed, his work yielded no fruit. Meanwhile, others who were willing to take the plunge with him had gotten discouraged. Like clockwork, they all fell into a comfortable rut and stopped planning their great escape.

Still, student X was restless. All his life he has been taking chances and risking everything. Why wasn’t he doing so now?

A couple of days after, he got a call from an old acquaintance currently residing in New York City, urging him to come out. Ever since he could remember, Student X was in love with New York. The buildings, the diversity, the opportunity. While dreaming of visiting the Big Apple, Student X realized it was much more expensive compared to the small resort town he was living in. On top of that, he didn’t have an apartment, a job, or a lead of any kind.

About five seconds later, he bitchslapped himself and said: “Fuck it. I’m doing it. I’ll figure it out somehow.” And just like that, his entire future changed.

Tick, tock goes the life clock

This time it was for real; no more contemplating, no more wondering, or looking for justifications. Student X was going all in, no holds barred.

At the house, things remained the same. Half the roommates thought he was crazy; leaving a “great place” and a “solid job” for uncertainty? Others called him brave, and some even considered coming with him with.

But once again, their fresh enthusiasm soon wore off and the fear kicked in. This was far from a foolproof plan, not even a smart move in the long-run. There were no guarantees or promises. He could go to NYC and have something amazing happen to him or he could go broke in a matter of days and we even more fucked than before.

The following day, one of the students who wanted to join him expressed her concerns: “I really, really want to go to New York with you”, she said, “but I’m very worried. I thought about it a lot and talked it over with my parents, and my dad said that if something sounds too good to be true, it usually isn’t”.

Student X didn’t flinch at her words. He calmly smiled and replied:

“I decided to take everything I own, buy a one-way ticket to NYC with no promise of an apartment or a job. There’s a possibility that I will not find anything and will go broke within a week. If I manage to find an apartment and put down the payment, I will be left with not much more than $100 to live in one of the most expensive cities in the world. So I don’t understand…which part of this sounds too good to be true?”

Student X was a risk-taker, but not a fool. He was optimistic, but not delusional. He knew this was a high-risk / high-reward type of situation, where he is pretty much rolling the dice on this trip. None of this mattered, as he didn’t let fear control his actions. His decision took balls.

He wasn’t worried about now making it because he knew he would make sure he makes it by any means necessary.

Until his departure, people around the house kept talking about how much of a fool he is. They would perceive his decision based on the final outcome, the same old black-and-white formula. If he succeeds, he’s amazing; if he fails, he’s an idiot.

Student X was aware that the world is never so simple. He knew that, even if things don’t turn out the way he wants them to, it won’t mean he had failed. At the very least, this is going to be a great learning experience for him, gathered on his long-awaited trip to New York City. How could he fail?

Other students were thinking about how time-consuming it would be to take this leap. He was thinking about how time-consuming it would be to waste your life in a place you hate. Their hourglass reflected the summer. His reflected the rest of his life.

Shortly before he left, Student X told them: “Take risks. Don’t let your fear cloud your judgment. Don’t let your comfort zone prevent you from experiencing life. Test the limits. Go higher, further, and deeper.” Nobody took him seriously. He didn’t care.

As I’m writing this, Student X had not only moved to NYC, but has completely turned his life around. I have it on good authority that it was “the best move he could’ve made.”

Fuck fear. Fuck your comfort zone. If somebody tells you that you can’t do something, fuck them too. This is your life. Your choices, your mistakes, your wins. If you’re wondering what Student X is doing right now, I say it doesn’t matter.

The question you should be asking yourself is – what are you doing?

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