I have experienced before what it feels like to take a risk and go too far.

It happened in 2003, when I was undergoing a training workshop with AsiaWorks. I remember in the Advanced training, we were challenged to not just think outside the box but to operate outside the box, beyond our comfort zones.

It was terrifying! To share things about myself that I have not shared with anyone, to tell my parents that I love them in words, to pick up a microphone in front of a hundred people and share, to stand on a chair and belt out a song, to clean tables at a public food court in my PJs.

On hindsight, these “stretch activities” do not seem to make much sense, but it was training after all. And that training was experiential to the max. It was so terrifying for me that my body reacted to it physiologically. Before stepping into the room, I would actually retch.

But what I learnt then – and which I can now neither deny nor dismiss – is what this quote by T.S. Eliot puts so succinctly.

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Having experienced what it felt like to take those risks to operate freely outside my comfort zone, I realised the area outside my box is huge, almost infinite.

Yes, I did feel FEAR. I am very familiar with how it feels like. But I also know now that while I feel it, I do not need to allow fear to stop me or hold me back. Oh WTF, I can still do it anyway!

And that was one of the greatest lessons I learnt.

It’s been 10 years since I attended my AsiaWorks training; and since then, I’ve picked myself up from rock bottom after a failed marriage, and moved forward on my own… I’ve made a mid-career shift from being a Psychologist to pursuing my passion in writing, and making it my living…

I accepted my first overseas travel writing assignment in 2005, when I had no prior experience in travel writing, or India for that matter (which was my first assignment!)…  In 2008, I took up the challenge of shifting from print to being a radio DJ, hosting a daily talk show on 938LIVE… In 2011, I took a year off my career to travel the world and write a book.

Life has not been more wonderful.

Operating outside the box is still terrifying for me, and it comes with successes and failures. It’s not all a bed of roses. Perhaps, that’s why the above quote by T.S. Eliot reads, “Only those who risk going too far, can possibly find out how far they can go.”

Yes! It is a risk, in every sense of the word. But without taking risks and embracing change, how will we grow?

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We’ve heard it said that Change is the only constant. And I reckon how we respond to Change in our lives – how much we welcome and embrace it, or how much we  avoid and reject it – will determine how far we go.

By constantly pushing the boundaries and daring to go just a little further, your comfort zone actually does expand; and it gradually grows bigger and bigger, and you slowly become less averse to change.

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So, the question remains: How far will you go for things that matter to you?

How much will you risk to pursue your dream? To make your passion your lifelong endeavour? How far will you go to show the Love of your life how much he or she means to you? Despite fear.

I love what Myanmar activist, Aung San Suu Kyi, said in her book, Freedom from Fear.

“Fearlessness may be a gift, but perhaps more precious is the courage acquired through endeavour, courage that comes from cultivating the habit of refusing to let fear dictate one’s actions.”

~ Aung San Suu Kyi

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