“Dr. Smith*!!! He's awake now!!”
Nearly two weeks ago, I woke up in a hospital bed to those words. Just hours before, I was in an urgent care clinic getting evaluated for chest pains. Then there I was, in a hospital bed, not 100 percent sure how I got there.
I had a heart monitor hooked up to my chest, and an IV pumping fluids to keep me hydrated and to numb my pain. Slowly but surely, I started gaining consciousness and awareness that I was no longer at the urgent care, but in the emergency room. With the pain under control, the doctor said something that induced even more pain: “Mr. Jenkins, the lining surrounding your heart is inflamed and a sack with fluid has formed. Either this is because you are having an extreme reaction to a rare strand of the flu or this is a precursor to a heart attack.”
I went numb. No longer did I feel any physical pain but I felt a different type of pain: regret.
From an early age, I had ambitious dreams. We all do. But as life goes on, society has a way of sucking those dreams out of you and attempts to push you down the “safe and secure” path of conformity. So that's what I did.
I went to high school and got decent grades. I went to college and got decent grades. I landed a job at a prestigious consulting firm. And everything would fall into place after that, right?
But there was an issue; I wasn't living my dream that I had envisioned as a young child. And worst of all, I was banking on the assumption that eventually I'd make enough money so when the time was right, I could then pursue my dream.
Ironically enough, just two days prior to this health scare, I sat down and formulated a life plan.
I mapped out the next few years of my life, and documented the steps necessary to accomplish those goals. Only thing is, a major health scare was not part of the plan.
Prior to this incident, I was drifting through life. I have a very good job at the same company and pursue several side projects, but I was accepting what life was giving me; I was not creating a life that I dreamed of.
Why? I was waiting for the perfect moment. I was waiting for the stars to align or some sign to appear and tell me to go for it. Maybe a person would enter my life; maybe I'd get inspired from a movie I watched. I didn't know. I was hoping that something, someone would enter my life, and that would ignite the match for me to put the pedal to the medal on going all out on my dreams and aspirations.
Like myself, I see many others coasting through life with bigger dreams and aspirations but too, are waiting for the “perfect time” before they take action. We all have reasons not to take action: “I have a well-paying job, I have debt to pay off, I have a family to feed,” etc. And those excuses paralyze us from taking action.
We are often afraid to take actions because we are firmly entrenched in our comfort zones. Comfort zones are a b*tch. On the surface, they seem safe as they feel normal and keep us out of danger. But comfort zones also prevent you from experiencing life. It's extremely hard to break free because once you take a step outside of your comfort zone, either the voice in the back of your head or the voice of society (parents, family, friends, teachers, etc.) tells you to go back in.
To break free, the pain of staying in your comfort zone must outweigh the pain of breaking free and taking what are perceived as risks. For many, the pain to change outweighs the pain to stay the same. So rather than taking risks, people stay stuck in the same place year after year waiting for some type of moment or sign so they can finally start living the life they dreamed of.
But that shooting start moment seldom occurs.
After 14 long hours of blood tests, x-rays, ultrasounds and being hooked up to a heart monitor, it was determined that the sack forming below my heart was due to my body reacting from a rare strand of the flu, not a heart attack. As my 29th birthday is right around the corner, I needed no other indication that this was life's way of telling me I need to make a major change.
This was my “sign.” Rather than being a spectator, when my health gets back to 100 percent I would regain control and attack life. You're lucky though; you don't have to wait for an emergency room visit to make drastic shifts in your life.
Most importantly, don't sit back waiting for your moment, sign or person to appear in your life to light that match so you can finally start living and chasing after your dreams. Because, what if they never show up?
*Name has been changed