Saying Yes to Scary Things

My advisor emailed me to ask if I'd like to give a guest lecture on Middle English lyrics to his Medieval Literature classes in the fall.


Being asked to do something like that is of course an honor and privilege, but it also couldn't be more frightening. Despite the fact that I've written over 20,000 words on the Middle English lyric, in some ways I don't think I could feel less qualified.

But how can I say no to such an opportunity?

Imagine if your favorite musician of all time asked you to join him onstage and jam in concert. Personally, would I vomit? Yes. But you can't say no to that! That's a once in a lifetime opportunity. Saying no may immediately take care of my anxiety and nervousness, but I can only imagine how I would feel afterward, knowing the opportunity is gone forever.

I'm not saying giving a lecture on Middle English lyric poetry is like jamming with Nathan Watts or Victor Wooten, but there's something important about saying yes to scary things.

Merlin Mann guested on Episode 001 of the CMD+SPACE Podcast this week, and it's a fantastic interview that goes deep into the story behind Merlin's online endeavors. While listening to the episode, I was reminded of his Inbox Zero mission statement:

Make the time to be scared of more interesting things.

And that's what it's all about. Giving a lecture is scary. Starting a podcast is scary. Building a website and putting your writing out there is scary. Trying to make a living without a "real job" is scary.

But these are the things that I want to be scared about.

I want to be good enough that my advisor asks me to speak to his class. I want to do podcasts that people love. I want to write things that help them and help me. Being scared of these things sounds infinitely better than being stressed out over a big meeting or a crazed supervisor.

The work I love is unconventional. It's not safe. It's not guaranteed to succeed. It's scary.

But that's what makes it interesting. And that's why I say yes to it.

Have a glorious weekend!

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