Living with the “What if it Never Happens?” Fear

“What if … ?”

Two terrible tiny little words that every now and then I hear in the back of my mind. It’s not so much the words in and of themselves. No. Those two words alone and even as a pair don’t have that much power.  The power comes in those three little dots after. That’s where the fear resides. Those three dots open up space for so much more. They are unsaid words hanging in the air.

“What if it never happens?”

There, I said it. Yep, this thought scares the heck out of the three of us. It is, after all, a real possibility.  What if we try and try and  just can’t save up the money we need? What if the bipeds lose their jobs and we have to refocus completely? What if there is a health issue with one of us and it means no traveling? What if we have a sudden responsibility that comes into our lives and can’t ignore?

There is nothing more terrifying than sharing our plans for our great Big Trip – putting it all out there – while accepting the risk, however big or small, that we might not make it. What if we let ourselves down? What if we let you down?  All of you, Dear Readers, cheering us on, believing in us, wanting this for us so badly that, sometimes, I’m not sure who wants this more: you or us.  What if we fail? Then what?

I can think of nothing worse than this.

The Law of Attraction – if you believe in it, and yes, for the record, we do – proposes that “like attracts like” and so, by focusing on positive or negative thoughts, one can bring about positive or negative results. Thus, if we declare our dream out loud and then follow every action possible to make our dream happen, our dream will, in fact, do just that: happen. We believe that once we direct our energy towards making our dreams come true, the Universe (you might call it God) begins to co-create with us, initiating opportunities and minimizing obstacles on the path to realizing our dream. That means  the more focus and action we direct towards our goal, the more things seem to fall into place.

But here is the thing: expressing our dream out loud like this, so publicly, also makes us vulnerable because our failure – should it occur – would also be public. I really don’t think we could live with that. Well, we could, but we don’t want to.  It’s not just the embarrassment either; it’s something else.

Sharing every step of the way with you likely doesn’t really make us any more prone to failure than if we kept it to ourselves. But, Dear Reader, sharing our plans certainly opens us to everyone else’s expectation. Everyone likes a feel-good story. No one wants to read a book or watch a movie that ends with the hero not making it, especially after spending more than two years planning. That’s not the Disney ending we’ve come to expect. We want to be inspired by people’s stories, not confronted with their failures.

That’s a lot of pressure.

Should I/we care what the world might have to say if we don’t make it? If we never get to buy the sailboat and sail the Med? Most of you will likely say “No! Oh, Monte, you shouldn’t care what others will have to say!” But see, I do care. We do care. I know you’ll still love us and you’ll still follow our little adventures. But that let down? To have our own dreams dashed like that and publicly? That is scary stuff, my friends.

But I have learned something important: you can feel the fear and still do it anyway.

I will continue to share the steps, the crazy thoughts in my head, the process and yes, the occasional angst-driven post, because the more I talk about this dream, the more fuel we have for it, and thus the more likely our dream is to come true.

Planning this trip makes us so happy, excited, nervous and … yes, a little bit scared. Frightened of the unknown, failure, disappointment, and, most of all, frightened that we will have let everyone down.  Yep, it’s a rollercoaster. But, in the end, I think having a little bit of fear is healthy. It reminds us that we can’t slack off and just expect our plans to come to fruition all by themselves. We have to work, sacrifice and move things forward.  A little bit of fear keeps our goal at the front of our minds and keeps the dream shining bright.

Have you ever had that happen, where putting your plans or dreams “out there” for all to see actually made the whole process more frightening? What was it? How did it end?

35 Comments on “Living with the “What if it Never Happens?” Fear

  1. I just read your last post about your trip 🙂 It is all very exciting, you will go through some ups and downs during the planning stages but planning is half the fun!!! A few years ago we were living in Australia when my husband decided to retire and come back to the US. We had done so much travel around the world but had never traveled around the US. We sold everything (again) we had sold everything 5 years before when we moved to Australia. When we came back we got in a car and drove around the USA. We were going to do it for a year, that year came and went, then another, and in the 3rd year we settled in Naples Florida. We still travel but we now have a home base. Don’t give up on your dream and enjoy every step you take in the planning you will learn so much and actually take the trip many times before you ever set sail 🙂 Good Luck!!! By the way we are friends over on my babies page “Busy Miss Izzy”, and I think we both are friends with Kiki 🙂 I missed the last party but will be going to the Crazy Yorkie ladies meet up in Feb. Will you be going to that one? I think the last time you were down in Naples you wrote and asked if we could meet up but I was up in Kentucky at that time. If you ever get back down to Naples, maybe we can get together for coffee. Hope to see you soon!

    • Thank you Jean for the comment. Also thank you for acknowledging that there will be ups and downs in the planning process. Feeling anxiety with the joy is normal but we tend to think we have no right to feel that way because after all … it is OUR DREAM right? Kudos to you and your hubby for doing what you wanted. Australia is on our list we just need them to drop that quarantine damn it! We have friends there too so it would be all the more fun.

      It is really nice to hear from someone who has been there! THANK YOU!

  2. This is your big dream and I know you will do whatever it takes to make it happen. I have seen the joy in your face when you talk about it! If, Heaven forbid, it doesnt happen it does not mean it is a failure. Stuff happens in life that is out of your control. There is nothing you can do about that. Striving to achieve your dream is what is giving you your joy! That, for now, is what is important. The gazillion people that love you will still love you if the trip doesnt happen. I dont think anyone would feel dissapointment, other than the fact that you would be so disappointed and we all want you to be happy. And this trip would be your trip of a lifetime!! I hope everything falls into place for you!! Love and hugs to all! ; )

    • Oh Marlene, you are such a good dear friend. Thank you. I love the way you frame it – that you would be disappointed because we would be disappointed. In other words not disappointed that the trip did not happen … but because we would be feeling those emotions that resemble a sense of failure so closely. You are right. It isn’t even about the trip is it? It is the journey that planning this trip has put us on that matters. Thanks for pointing that out.

  3. I think your feelings are very normal as it is a big endeavour. However, just think of all the excitement of the planning phase, it will exceed the hard moments.

    It will be the adventure of your lives — an accomplishment and the culminating point of something that you have been dreaming of.

    If you do not try, you will always wonder what it would have been.

    Go with your hearts.

    • Oh Marie, what a lovely comment. It reminds me of our favorite quote: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” (Mark Twain)

      So true … so true.

  4. I understand your fellings, Monte, actually me and my son live like this every day: what if we loose, what if he receive such trauma which will not let him play professionally ( ordinary traumas not even counted), but there is no permission to be scared. My son told me once: if I would think about concequences and about being safe, I would be the looser on the field. I am telling you this because this is only natural that you cannot win every game, this doesn’t mean that you cannot dream, make plans, take risks and try to fulfil it. The life without a dream is just existence, and we dream with you. If by some objective reasons this journey will not happen, we already had wonderful moments planning how to do it and sharing your dreams with you, and hope this will continue, and your dream will come true, hugs, we love you, Montecristo Travels and co.!

    • I love that you showed us that this fear isn’t unique to long term travel. It is in peoples lives all the time. The key is to feel the fear – but push beyond it and not let it stop you and do “it” anyway. Otherwise as you said so beautifully; you don’t live – you just exist. Thanks Val for making that point!

  5. Ah …. How well I understand what you feel, my dear friends!
    I feel the same feelings, because next summer will welcome my dear friends. For me this is a big and real adventure!
    What will happen …. If you do not stay goes well … If I can show them all the interesting places … If something bad happens to car travel … If you do not understand my bad english … if you do not like our food and my country … If we meet are frustrated and have nothing to talk about … if my disease gets worse ….
    And much much more …… What will happen …..!?
    But soon those thoughts in mind invade others – sunny and beautiful and optimistic …. it can be even much better than my expectations …..
    But no matter all my fears I can do only one thing – I expect my dear friends with great hope and love!!! This I can do! The other depends on the universe ….
    Send you BIG HUGS AND KISSES! :)))

    • Oh Radmila … dearest friend. Do not worry so much! We are already so grateful for the invitation alone! Words will not matter! We will find a way to communicate. Plus, your English is always going to be better than my Bulgarian (ummm… that I no absolutely not a single word) so please do not worry! Seeing anything of your country will be more than we have seen now. All will be well and we can’t wait! Be good and kind to yourself dearest friend. Be well and the happiness of seeing each other face to face will be worth all the fear you feel now! (PS: we worry that we will not be all you hope we are so … we understand!)

  6. I will be happy to meet you dear Monte, Sonja and Stefan!
    And I tell you: ОБИЧАМ ВИ – /OBICHAM VI/ – I love you :)))

  7. Dear Radmila, Stefan, Sonja, (wiping tears), all that Radmila told in her comment is so close to what i feel, my English is very slow, and I write much better than i speak, I am sooo worried that my son’s sports will ruin my plans, but what I know for sure that In the first dates of July, 2013 I am free and will be in Yalta, and will try with the short period of preparation to meet my friends the best way I can, and I know they will forgive me if I will loose some details, but the main thing is that i will finaly meet people and small doggy that mean sooo much to me, who filled my sleepless nights with adventures and info i never knew while I was waiting for my son to come back safe after the game, and my daily sports menue routine was not as dull as always, my hubby heard a lot about you, folks, and willing to meet you as well, and he is ready to help me in every possible way, xxx, hugs, lots of love!

    • Thanks a lot for the support Val! You are very kind! Hugs and kiss you! 🙂

    • Oh Val! now it is us that have tears! No matter what, just seeing you, hugging you and being able to be in each others company – even without words – would be enough! Your heart felt invitation has already shown us such amazing generosity! You and Radmila both … we are so humbled by it. We will do all we can to make this happen for ALL of us!

      If we bring a little joy, a little laughter, a little diversion to your life than we are SO glad. It is a small thing to give to someone as lovely as you.

      Lots of love, respect and kisses!

      – Sonja, Stefan and Montecristo

  8. Hi Monte, hugs n kisses.
    Failure…is it really failure if you gave it your best shot? I’m facing this now. I am very low income (800.00) a month…no I’m not kidding…and I have been trying to become s o m e t h i n g in my later adult life (I’m 52). I’ve put myself out there and changed my goals a few times. Started with liberal arts 10 years ago to be accepted at a school to do veterinary medicine. Because of my age the school wanted me to get my liberal arts degree first. I did 2 to 3 years of classes in one college, changing from liberal arts to business, which was impossible because I am so bad at math and then switched to psychology because it was one of my interests. I wasn’t really sure WHERE the veterinary school was until I took an adventure ride with my GPS system and found out it was only 20 minutes away. So after these few years at the first college I went to the college I wanted to go to…Becker to get my animal care degree…they wanted me to start with that to see how I did. After one semester I decided I wanted to give veterinary medicine a go. I switched to that THEN found out the school I was in only offered pre-vet classes of vet tech degrees. To be a veterinarian I would need some 10 years of schooling (mind you I am 52 years old). NOW I have published all I have bee doing in my about me section on FB. My switches, all along this road. Now I’ve come to the point that I have run out of money ….government grants and loans now have a lifetime cap thru President Obama so that people do not over spend themselves on schooling…I understand this…but sometimes this don’t work as smoothly as we would like. I was told at the beginning of this semesters traditional classes (going everyday with the kiddies) that I would owe the school $5,000.00!!!!! In talking with financial aid they told me if I went into the accelerated classes for psychology which I am almost finished with, I would get a degree. So I sign up for my classes, finish them and get a bill for $4,000.00. WHAT? I call again, oh wait let’s look. Ok I HAVE $3000.00 plus in the school money right now. BUT I will have to PAY $198.00 BEFORE I can take another class. Can’t that be taken out of the money that is there???

    So what do I do??? I look at the first college I went to. Their accelerated classes are $1436.00 while Becker’s accelerated classes are $1236.00 per class. Hmmmmm. I need to pay $100.00 to get back into Becker. Mass Rehabilitation (I am disabled from arthritis and fibromyalgia) will pay $1300.00 per class/semester. My therapist says he will help me with the books.

    My last traditional classes I failed in because my sister died and I took off a week to deal with that. When I came back and asked for my makeup work I was told no, I had lost too much time and alot of information had been covered, so I should drop the classes…which means my GPA drops. Great. I decided to go back to psychology on the accelerated program due to the financial problems. LAST class…we have snow and I am unable to get to my last 2 classes. I got a C- in one and an F in the other because we had presentations to do and I couldn’t make it in. Great….my GPA is horrendous NOW.

    So, I am at a standstill. What to do. I am fighting depression of failing again. I haven’t had any support from friends or family what so ever thru any of this. No one is going to school in my family as an adult and think I am just creating a bill for myself. At THIS point that’s JUST what I am doing. 🙁

    Years ago, I was dating Joe. His encouragement was so good that his words resonate thru my head… “YOU NEVER FINISH ANYTHING.” Nice words to live with right? It’s been horrible.

    What can I do? Keep writing for my loans not to go into default due to my financial status. Try to see what I HAVE for money. See who can help. Try to find scholarship programs that might help me. And who is lifting me up with encouragement…no one.

    So, Monte I KNOW what your bi-peds are going thru. Do you even BEGIN a journey if there’s any what if’s? I think you should do you best to achieve what you want to do. If you don’t make it to where you wanted to go, so be it. At least you attempted. That’s MORE than a lot of people would EVER do! I WOULD be concerned about your jobs, however. Unless you have a mess of vacation time on your hands…I wouldn’t risk it. Right now Monte you live a marvelous life. I’m not trying to talk you out of your plans, but WHAT IF your job does become filled while you are gone????? Can you find other employment that will fill the gap of what you lost.

    My suggestion…as a therapist and as someone going thru this this NOW… is write ALL the WHAT IF’s down. Writing them down makes them more tangible. If you can live with some of them cross them out of your list. That’s fewer than what you had then. Those that are left…how much will they weigh on you IF they happen?? That’s all I would offer.

    What am I doing? I’m making phone calls trying to find out what I owe. What I can get in scholarships. WHO will help me. And in the meantime, I’m tired of sulking about it all because AGAIN I did not finish what I started…I decided I needed to get my bum in gear and do something to occupy my time. I signed up to volunteer at my town’s hospital at the front desk. I start in 2 weeks. And I also have a ton of projects to do that have waited long enough to be done…quilts, afghans, puzzles,sewing of garments… I can’t JUST SIT HERE. My computer also died btw and am under the pressures of using my son’s computer when he is still asleep or his laptop which my sister takes over when she comes daily because her lap top died, yet I am who pays the bill…lol I don’t want her to be upset because she recently lost her job of 35 years and I don’t care for the way she gloats if I am on the computer and she is not!~ She recently received SSDI (social security disability benefits) and I am hoping she will buy herself a new laptop when her retroactive money comes in!!!!!! Because I want to be online too damn it!!

    Public shame? Puh…it is what it is.
    Letting people down…as much as we look forward to your adventures, life does NOT accommodate us, we must work thru life. If you don’t make it to sail around the Mediterranean you could possible visit the areas on smaller more affordable/do~able vacations. Monte….anything you do excites ME because I will NEVER have the chance to do anything in my life! I love seeing how spoiled you get! I wish I could give my babies half of what you get! I couldn’t afford one of your outfits for Kyra! lol

    People will have their opinions…those with the negative opinions already have them, so who cares! It’s your life and you have to be comfortable and stable in YOUR life. Especially in this economy!

    Much love and kisses to you Monte, dear!!<3

    Barb J

    • Dearest Barbara. Thank you for humbling us. I mean that in a good way. It is always easy to forget to count the blessings that we have. Our jobs are safe. Our employers have an agreement with the unions that every employee is allowed a full year (without pay) of leave, with no risk of loosing their position. So, we will cut that year into two 6 month stints.

      I want to take a moment to thank you for opening up so fully, here to me and the other Readers. That took courage. I believe you will find a way. Your determination came through in your writing. In Your word choices. Something will happen that will allow you to follow your dream.

      Stefan (Dad) is 51. He had to re-invent himself about 8 years ago. So we understand the fear and frustration. Don’t let go. You are your best advocate. The cheerleaders in your own head and heart.

      Life has been kind and it seems generous to us … it took you and your comment to remind us that our dreams are for the most part already real. We have each other, we have jobs we like, we have a home, we have our health. We are truly blessed. So thank you for this. For the moment of gratitude it brought.

      -The Montecristo Travels Team

  9. There are a lot of ‘what ifs’ in life…..the answer ‘so what’…..If you don’t get to go on your trip it will be a huge disappointment but life will go on and something else will come up Monte – but yes think positively. I never thought I would get a chronic illness and my life at age 33 would change so drastically but I did, my life changed and I make the best of it. Yes I had other plans for life but life is still very good. ‘If you want to make God laugh tell him you have a plan’.

    • Really good point. Life is what it is and you have to … grab the bull by the horns and go for it. Fear is such an ugly paralyzer. Thank you!!! and I have to remind myself that life is so uncertain. You can plan but … who knows! and that is OK. Thanks Donna! and I am so sorry this happened to you. You carry your burden with grace and poise.

  10. Hi Monte and company
    When I decided to go back to school in 2008 at 38 years old I not only faced a lot of skeptism ,but my own what if fears as well. It was a challenging and intensive massage therapy course. I was affraid to fail. Turns out failing two courses was actually a blessing. I am a much better RMT today then I would have been. And today, I officially start my career as an RMT. The saying “you only truly fail if you do not try” is true! Oh, I forgot to mention it took me 11 years to get up the courage to persue my dream of being an RMT.

    • Carolyn THAT is an inspiration! WAY TO GO!! People like you are what we need more in our lives. Prove to everyone that it CAN be done and that it is NEVER too late! Love the quote by the way it is SO very very true. Thank you for chiming in with your “What if” experience. I am very glad your dreams have come true at last! CONGRATS!!

  11. This is meant for the sweet loving eyes of Radmila and Val. Love to both of you!!! Please, ladies, have no worries or tears or fear about Monte and his family’s visit with you both. They are all so easy going and loving and each thing, even the small things, are like a gift to them as seen through their eyes. You all will have such a fun and rich experience with them. There should be no fears my friends!!!! Love to all. ; )))

  12. Monte, I’ve never met you or your bipeds personally, but as a reader of your blog, I know they are loving, hard-working, caring people. They have invited us along on their journey of trying to achieve their dream of buying a boat and sailing around the Mediterranean. For us loyal readers, the journey to be able to do the journey is worthy of our attention and is a great story unto itself.

    We are, of course, rooting for you and your bipeds to be able to make this dream come true, but we are honored that you and your bipeds have invited us along for the entire ride. If part of the ride is that the final goal is ultimately derailed by an Act of God (or bipeds), we will not be ashamed of your bipeds. We might be disappointed WITH them, but not AT them. I dare say that we are all probably adults who follow your blog. This necessarily means that we all have our dings, dents and scratches to show for having lived. We’ve all “failed”, but sometimes those failures clear the way for something better. Ask anyone with a happy second marriage.

    John Lennon supposedly said, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans”, and Woody Allen famously said, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.” When grown-ups read or hear these quotes, we smile with rueful recognition—but we don’t stop making plans and sharing them with people we trust. (If you’ve ever attended Weight Watchers, you can certainly relate.)

    Write on!!!

    • I love those two quotes. A lot of head nodding here when we read them. It also occurred to us that we always dream really high – and then abandon to a more real level. So what are we worried about? It may be we will have a smaller sailboat, or perhaps we will not leave for as long a stretch but WE will go! 🙂

      Thank you, for taking the time to write such an eloquent response to our blog post. It is about the journey. Life’s journey. Not the trip. We needed that reminder. Thank you.

    • Stefan has that. He is now 51 and has a few things he already knows he will never get to do. Our lives are simply too short. But as Mom says to him: Stop focusing on what you have not done and see all that you HAVE done and are about to. It is true … we have already done so much! It is a shame to focus on what had to fall to the way side. That energy is better spent building the next big dream.

  13. OH…so many comments, I couldn’t read them all!

    I disagree with your word “failure”. If, for some reason, this trip does not happen, you should not see it as a failure, but rather as a learning experience. I don’t believe in failures! So many factors can affect the course of your lives from now until then, that you may not be able to control. But being able to “adjust” to the situation, is what makes us come out as winners. Maybe you won’t be able to do this trip, but there is nothing stopping you from changing the “sails” to another destination or adventure! If, God forbid, one of you should get sick, then your priorities would change, and not taking the trip would not have been a failure, but rather a true testament of what is more important in your lives at the time. What is important today, is not always what is important tomorrow.

    I was working hard, climbing the corporate ladder and hoping to retire early. I got sick, and had to take a break. I don’t see this as a failure, quite the opposite. During these past two years I have gotten so much closer to my family, especially my parents as I spend a lot of time there. And “making money” is not even in my top 5 things to achieve anymore. Health, of course, is number 1. Happiness, friends and family, having a roof over my head, food in my pantry… all these things are more important now. As humans, we know how to evolve and change our direction when a fast ball is thrown to us. I can’t think “what if” all the time, I’d waste my life away worrying about it!

    So even if you do not achieve this particular goal, I know you will achieve anothother one as you have done so often in the past. Times change, and so do we. I will never think you are a “failure” if you do not take this trip. I only use the word “failure” for a power failure! 🙂 I think it’s time you take it out of your repertoire of words too! No matter what you decide from now until 2015, we will always be behind you 100%. That’s what true friendship is all about!!!

    • You are the second person to say this. The other came from our friend Ingrid who sent it to our private email and pretty much gave us shit for being negative. LMAO! YOu are both absolutely correct. There is no such thing as failure. I am taking all these comments and … writing another post. Thank you for being a REAL friend. We needed the kick in the ass.

  14. First of all, I love Pepitomom’s comment. She hit the nail on the head many, many times.

    We’ve been through a situation similar to your Big Trip – we sold our home, bought an RV, and have been travelling full-time with our dogs for two years. It was terrifying and exhilarating and exciting and definitely, definitely worthwhile. I hope your dreams come true, because this is the best thing we’ve ever done. And, it there is ever anything I can do to help – offer advice, cheer you up, keep you motivated – don’t hesitate to reach out. Good luck!

    • OH Amy WE WILL!! Following people that HAVE already done this. Blazed the trail so to speak is what keeps us from total freak out. So thank you. For us, selling everything is not an option. So financially we are concerned – the cost of the sailboat alone … that fear is always there. A parasite of sorts in our process. But we SHALL find a way!

      One thing I would love to know. What are items you can’t live without and what did you get for the trip you ended up not needing? That woudl be helpful information.

      Thanks for dropping in! We are flattered!

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