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Moving Beyond Fear and Expectation #ToughTalk


What feelings are evoked when you hear that word? I would imagine a sense of anxiety, foreboding, physical discomfort and a visceral response, maybe even to the point of feeling physically threatened. When you are “scared,” you are experiencing fear or the notion of oncoming fear. You are emotionally, mentally, and physically beginning to anticipate the future threat, the oncoming adrenaline rush.

“Fear,” like “hate,” are extremely strong words that pack a major emotional punch, and yet these are words that have become part of our everyday vocabulary. Fear, especially, is a word that I have come to notice on a rather frequent basis in and around the blog world–this is the time of year that many of us experience major changes in our lives: graduation, the transition to summer, maybe a bit goal race. Regardless, we are anticipating major life changes that will result from a significant event, and, not knowing what lies beyond that event, or how that event itself might fare, we feel uncertain. Many have admitted to being “scared.”

But are we really scared? SHOULD we really be scared? Should we feel fear? Or, more precisely, should we feel nervous? 

On a particularly debbie downer day, when I was feeling snakebit and a bit lost both with regards to my physical progress but also upon coming down from the high that comes with making major decisions (and the inevitable OH SH*T that follows), that I didn’t so much need to “turn that frown upside down” or something belittling like that: instead, I needed to gain a new perspective: fear vs. nerves.

Upon further reflection, I came to an important distinction: Fear corresponds with a threat and maybe even regret. Nerves stems from a sense of excitement and anticipation. Like the line between genius and insanity. And we know which side of that line I am on (shutupshutup).

Last week, everyone’s favorite little ranchcookie spoke of graduation fears (the post that prompted me to preempt my scheduled topic for this week to talk about fear/nerves instead), and admirably spoke of how she was trying to come to terms with the notion of accepting “failure.” Well, as someone who has unsuccesfully attempted to gain paid employment in her chosen career path for the past 6 years (see why I changed routes here), and has been turned down/overlooked more times that I care to admit, let me tell you what, I know a thing or two about failure.

Here is what I had to say back to her:

You are going to hear people not to tell you to be afraid–that you’ll be great, get a job, and life will be hunky dory. And guess what? Maybe you will, maybe you won’t. Actually, I am going to write my next tough talk on this. Stay tuned. So, in order to tease you/not give away all of my secrets (yes, I’m evil), hear this: things may not end up the way you expect, or think that they should, or that you feel that you deserve for them to, but, and here his the big kicker: HAVE FAITH that AT THE END OF THE DAY, you will get to the place you will be. That’s cryptic–not where you need to be, but where you are. It isn’t for us to say what is right for us. But it is for us to decide how we react to what happens.
Don’t be AFRAID. Be NERVOUS. Fear–it brings with it tinges of harm. Nerves have an undercurrent of excitement. Enjoy every moment of every day between now and then, and after. They are all gifts. And you are a smart (ranch) cookie, you are beautiful inside and out, and you are learning everyday who you are. Continue to grow, and to allow yourself to grow.
You got this. I have great, great faith. But I’m always a text/email/call/tweet/carrier pigeon away.

Right now, I too am about to start over, to step out of the shelter of school–you spend all of your time waiting for it to end, so that you can start your life, but then, when you have your degree in hand, the pressure actually comes–pressure placed on you by you to get a job and/or to perform. To live up to the expectation you have set for yourself.

If you get nothing else from these 800 odd words, please hear this, a phrase so important to me that it is the tagline of my future business:

Life is about Moving Beyond Expectations.

And eating ice cream in compression pants. 😀

I challenge you not to belittle your feelings by saying, “oh, I shouldn’t feel scared, how silly of me!” But rather to acknowledge and then question them. Do you feel fear? Or are you feeling nerves? I think you will be surprised at how it changes you perception of the decisions you have to make.

When have you thought you felt fear but, in retrospect, were feeling nerves? Would knowing the difference have had any effect on your mentality at the time?

Tell me one simple (or epic!) way that you have moved beyond expectation (yours, others’) in the past week. Can be as simple as running without headphones, or as big as doing a 20 miler for the first time. Or maybe you cooked fish for the first time!

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  • Reply Heather @ PrettyHealthyMostoftheTime

    I applied for a new job! (And I think I’m going to get it! ::knocks on wood::)

    Great post!

    May 6, 2014 at 6:31 am
    • Reply SuzLyfe

      Fingers are crossed for you! Keep us updated!

      May 6, 2014 at 8:27 am
  • Reply The Running Chef

    Great posst Suzy, so very true! Fear stops us from doing so many things, and we need to not be so concerned with what others would think of us if we fail, instead focusing on the opportunities that are put our way. I am trying to embrace my fear of not knowing where I will be in 6 months. Everything is changing in my life and I hate that I cannot control it!

    Beyond expectation in the last week? Keeping it together when i had that awful workout on Thursday. It went really bad, but I did not let it ruin my confidence in my upcoming half marathon. It proved to me that i am only human, and elite I may be, but sometimes we all have bad days. In the past i would have let that fear overcome me and completely panic for weeks!

    May 6, 2014 at 7:10 am
    • Reply SuzLyfe

      Thank you, Tina. I have been in a similar situation as you are–not knowing where I will be in a matter of days, weeks, months. And I am glad that you aren’t letting a subpar day get you down. We all need reminders of our falliability from time to time, and I think that those bad workouts can be even more instructive that the perfect ones–they help recommit us, get our focus back. Good luck!

      May 6, 2014 at 8:31 am
  • Reply ranchcookie

    I am so glad I inspired you to write this! I have finally realized that I don’t fear the future I am just nervous for how it will end up, but after thinking about my nerves it is quite exciting because the world is our oyster and the possibilities are endless 🙂
    Something that I have moved beyond expectation this week was schedule an interview in North Carolina! Which is huge considering my friends and family live in Ohio, but opportunity calls!

    May 6, 2014 at 7:23 am
    • Reply SuzLyfe

      Congrats on your change of perspective and on your job interview! Fingers are crossed–keep me up to date!

      May 6, 2014 at 8:35 am
  • Reply autumnptw

    Love this post, stay strong. Talk about nervous nelly, I’m writing a blog series, it’s the opposite of popular & current trend. I’m writing for the other team—Non Runners. I feel nervous, rebellious and righteous to be the devils advocate in world teaming with bandwagon jumpers. Anyway, my nervousness is really unfounded, cuz who the heck is reading my blog series anyway? he he he 🙂

    May 6, 2014 at 7:56 am
    • Reply SuzLyfe

      Amen to everything but the self deprication–I’m gonna read it! And that should make you so, so nervous 😀 Right now running and talking about running is the big ticket item, but like I spoke about on Saturday–there is more to fitness and health than running. Can’t wait to read!

      May 6, 2014 at 8:34 am
  • Reply irenejean

    Great post! I’m anxiety prone and sometimes fear the unknown/future. You’re so right that we will end up where we end up. Things have generally worked out pretty well even though I’m not where I envisioned I would be ten years ago! I moved beyond my expectations last weekend on my mountain biking trip. I biked stuff that was very technical for me, and pushed myself out of my comfort zone. I think I improved my biking overall by doing harder trails, and that feels good. 🙂

    May 6, 2014 at 8:25 am
    • Reply SuzLyfe

      I’m so glad that you connected with this post. And congrats and good for you on conquering your mountain biking trip. We’ve got to do things that scare us, in a good way, some times! You are dead on–by pushing yourself, you totally took your skill to the next level. MOVIN ON UP!

      May 6, 2014 at 8:37 am
  • Reply Sara @ lifebetweenthemiles

    What a wonderful, thought provoking post! I don’t often feel fear, but I feel nerves a lot and it totally can mess with my head. One way I have moved beyond expectation in the past week was I let go at work of trying to be perfect when it came to giving a presentation. I put so much stress on myself for perfection, when all I needed to do was get up there, show I knew what I was talking about and portray confidence. Once I let go of perfection, I felt happier and I totally rocked my presentation when I chose a different mind set!

    May 6, 2014 at 8:28 am
    • Reply SuzLyfe

      Thank you for your sweet compliment. We all need to remind ourselves of our falliability from time to time–I learned that in advanced honors calculus! But how gooooooood does it feel when you let yourself own it, get up, and NAIL IT. Congrats on a fantastic presentation!

      May 6, 2014 at 8:39 am
  • Reply Laura @ the gluten-free treadmill

    I love this – and I think I get caught up in fear as a negative when I think anticipation is really want would be a healthy way to deal with it ( like for my marathon this weekend). It becomes a cycle for me and I lose perspective which isn’t healthy at all. I think I spend a lot of time trying to ignore the feelings which, if I actually addressed them, I could actually make them productive and use them to pump me up… Hmmm… I’m just thinking this one through, but I think you’re on to something here!

    And moved beyond expectation? I sent a text to someone I’d been thinking about for months but didn’t think they’d want to hear from me. And while nothing momentous happened, it felt good to say what I was feeling and stop thinking and start doing!

    May 6, 2014 at 8:33 am
    • Reply SuzLyfe

      Agreed agreed agreed! Marathons and big events are so tricky–so much pressure for that ONE MOMENT in time. Apply that energy to the act itself, and think of how much of a reserve you will have to tap into! And good for you for reaching out–isn’t it so refreshing to feel the weight lifted?!

      May 6, 2014 at 8:42 am
  • Reply Baking in Yoga Pants

    Love this! I think there are a lot of unsettling feelings surrounding uncertainty and it is so important to have faith at those times!

    May 6, 2014 at 8:57 am
    • Reply SuzLyfe

      So, so true. And just knowing that change can be exciting rather than terrifying!

      May 6, 2014 at 1:13 pm
  • Reply northernambitions

    Awesome post. You’re so right, fear can hold us back too often

    May 6, 2014 at 9:02 am
    • Reply SuzLyfe

      Thank you! It took me a long time to realize what I was feeling was nerves not fear. It has helped me a lot!

      May 6, 2014 at 1:17 pm
  • Reply your mommy, Clare

    Suz (Suse)
    What an outstanding post!
    I know you are on the right track and I can’t wait to read more.
    Fear gives me that clutch in my gut, the deep humiliation, the immediate sense of failure or of letting down or disappointing those whom matter most.

    I did it yesterday with you.
    We can’t un-say what we’ve said, we can’t un-do what we did…….but we can apologize .

    I’m so sorry for doubting you, I didn’t understand.

    May 6, 2014 at 10:30 am
  • Reply pickyrunner

    Well you know I can relate to this. I’m in a very similar place as Ranch Cookie and I’m afraid of letting people down/not living up to what I’m capable of, but at the end of the day, it’s not failure, it’s just taking a different path. I’m afraid of making the wrong decision for sure, but I also am trying to have faith that whichever one I choose will be right for me at that moment. Thank you for this post. It was so necessary in this incredibly stressful time.

    May 6, 2014 at 11:28 am
    • Reply SuzLyfe

      I’m so glad that you connected with it too-you guys are in an incredible and absolutely insane moment in your life-you need to know that you can be lieve in yourself because we certainly do!

      May 6, 2014 at 1:19 pm
  • Reply runningsouthern

    Thanks for the post, friend! I think about my own fears and the expectations that I set for myself. While I have a lot of personal goals that I post all over the blog world, I also have very high career expectations that I have set for myself. The fear of failure at these are those that I rarely publicize, as they are the ones that, if I fail, are the most devastating to me at this point in my life. This one got me thinking deep.

    May 6, 2014 at 12:43 pm
    • Reply SuzLyfe

      I think it’s natural to keep the biggest fears closest to the cuff, and sometimes to overproject confidence. You’re simply trying to protect yourself. It’s when you let them eat you up that you’re merely getting in your own way

      May 6, 2014 at 1:38 pm
  • Reply courtruns4cupcakes

    I was definitely fearing graduation last semester and decided to stay in the safe zone (school) although I really think it will be worth it for me!

    May 6, 2014 at 3:23 pm
    • Reply SuzLyfe

      Leaving school early is a tough decision-you want to be getting on with your life, but there is a lot you can miss from the whole experience (like that last spring there) that you can’t get back, and are true rights of passage. They teach you so much. Rushing into something before you are ready just isn’t worth it

      May 6, 2014 at 6:19 pm
  • Reply Debbie Bridges

    As you are aware living with Crohn’s is like living in fear 24/7. Fear leading to anxiety and/or stress which is the worst thing for Crohn’s. It’s the dog chasing his tail situation. I would always be so afraid I was going to have a rough run or race that I would make the nightmare come true. I started focusing on the positive, setting realistic goals and telling myself to it was ok to stop, walk, take a picture or even pick up someone’s trash that birds made a mess of.
    It’s not easy to turn negative into positive energy but practice makes it become second nature and soon your way of life.

    Since I have been home alone (OK the dog and the cat are here with me) for the most part of the last 8 months I don’t have anyone to talk to. (Alright yes I do talk to the dog and the cat and while they are good listeners they suck as conversationalists) so I started writing in a notebook each night at least one thing I did that day that made me feel good.
    When I have my weak moments I read them, it never takes more than 5 or 6 days worth to turn my frown upside down.

    PS… As a person named Debbie, I hate the reference to a Debbie Downer by those not named Debbie.

    May 6, 2014 at 4:07 pm
    • Reply SuzLyfe

      Very valid on the Debbie Downer aversion , and duly noted! I connect with everything you have just said- especially the ever present anxiety of what might be around the cornet, what might turn you r everyday pleasures into spectres for the future. And I agree that sometimes we only truly free ourselves with practice. You ‘ve put it perfectly about the pets, by the way! Your practice of reminding yourself of the best parts of your day is fabulous and inspirational for all. We need to remember that, to a great extent but not completely, we can be responsible for our own happiness. That isn’t to say we can do it alone, but it does mean we can change our outlook through our perception of our world.

      May 6, 2014 at 6:26 pm
  • Reply Lauren @ ihadabiglunch

    I was offered a full-time job and turned it down to stay at my internship. I went with my gut! The only thing scarier than wondering if I made the wrong decision is knowing how many people think I’m an idiot for doing so haha

    May 6, 2014 at 4:24 pm
    • Reply SuzLyfe

      People think I look like an idiot everyday. And you know what? Maybe I do, maybe I am. But at least I (and you) have someone in our lives willing to be idiots with us. And we have friends who at least let us know when we look a hot mess. Idiots, eh sure. Hot mess? Never

      May 6, 2014 at 6:16 pm
  • Reply txa1265

    Great post! I think this is so important!

    For me, the whole RPI trip had anxiety attached … that I wrote about already. I have to confess to being pretty psyched with myself for that whole thing.

    Maybe if nothing else I can serve as a reminder that you don’t really outgrow this stuff.

    May 6, 2014 at 7:53 pm
    • Reply SuzLyfe

      So true–and I mean to go back and comment on that post–it was great and such a good reminder that we both grow up and don’t, no matter how hard we try to do one or the other!

      May 7, 2014 at 8:35 am
  • Reply runsaltrun

    DEFINITELY during my pregnancy. I was SO afraid of having a baby. Or I thought I was so afraid. Everything about my life was about to change and it all became very overwhelming especially right at the end. In hindsight (and especially after reading this beautiful, insightful post) it WAS nerves. It was such an exciting time too.

    You are always so thoughtful, Suz. I love your blog.

    May 6, 2014 at 8:27 pm
    • Reply SuzLyfe

      Thanks #mamasalt. Your stamp of approval definitely means a lot. And I think that I will feel very similarly during my own pregnancy (willing that I am able to get pregnant). It is one of the most important, emotional, and groundshattering moments in life, and to not feel anything would be a vastly greater tragedy.

      May 7, 2014 at 8:36 am
  • Reply The T-Rex Runner (@thetrexrunner)

    “Life is about moving beyond your expectations.” YASSS. So true. I have struggled with whether or not it’s good to have expectations at all because half the time you just get disappointed, which is why I tend to lean towards the pessimistic side of things, unhealthy though that may be. I think it’s important to set goals and work towards them while recognizing that it’s ok if your goals change sometimes or you fail.

    One of the things that has kept me going throughout the years is that when I look back on really shitty times, I can appreciate that they got me to where I am. Things always, eventually, get better.

    May 6, 2014 at 8:59 pm
    • Reply SuzLyfe

      So so true. We don’t have to go through life the eternal optimist, but we have to trust ourselves enough to know that we have made choices and we will be making choices that will help us get out of the holes into which we dig ourselves. And that includes surrounding ourselves with incredible people who remind us that we are human but also so much more!

      May 7, 2014 at 8:38 am
  • Reply Healthy Simple Smart

    I LOVE when people make small observations of word connotation but it drops huge knowledge (sorry the English major in me reared her head)! Fear = undercurrent of pain; nerves= excitement. Brilliant!

    I moved beyond my expectations this week when I ran a good feeling (good pace for me) run this weekend. It’s the first time in a year that I’ve gone over 3 miles and I was nervous that I’d hate it/it’d be awful.

    May 6, 2014 at 9:41 pm
    • Reply SuzLyfe

      I’m such a word nerd that making the realization made me soooooo happy. And good for you! Next is 4…then 5…then16…..

      May 7, 2014 at 8:34 am
  • Reply The Little Things ARE Life #WIAW | SuzLyfe

    […] Flickr Twitter Facebook RSS Feed ← Moving Beyond Fear and Expectation #ToughTalk […]

    May 7, 2014 at 6:02 am
  • Reply Regret #sharesomethinginspiring | Suzlyfe

    […] is a word that gets bandied about like “fear” or “hate.” Recently, I have come across two mentions of the word that caused me […]

    June 3, 2014 at 6:01 am
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    […] Learning to Ride the Downhill (also informative about running!), Intuition, Relaxed Readiness, Fear vs. Nerves, Regret, Gratitude, and Stop Thinking…. Thank you for being a sounding board, and for sharing […]

    June 20, 2014 at 9:30 am
  • Reply Marathon Mindset: What The Marathon Means for Me - Suzlyfe

    […] that I penned for National Running Day, about Why I Run. I often mention my little tag line of “moving beyond expectation,” and combined with the “why” of why I run, I think you will understand why I decided to go […]

    October 27, 2014 at 2:27 pm
  • Reply Regret #sharesomethinginspiring - Suzlyfe

    […] is a word that gets bandied about like “fear” or “hate.” Recently, I have come across two mentions of the word that caused me […]

    October 27, 2014 at 3:21 pm
  • Reply The Little Things ARE Life

    […] going to mention a few of these yesterday, but I didn’t want to compromise the message of yesterday’s post. Thank you so much for the fantastic response! I hope that it helps all of us to keep life, […]

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    […] training and weight gain (however much), or learning how to think about concepts like regret and fear in a constructive way. I don’t claim to know everything, but I would like to think that maybe […]

    November 28, 2014 at 5:39 am
  • Reply Cora

    Well, commenting a year later. This is a very interesting differentiation to think about. I hate feeling nervous. God it’s the worst. And yet I somehow picked a career based on it. Doh. The thing with fear for me is I’ve learned how to mask it – through anger, coping mechanisms etc. Which means it is stemming from something much much deeper. A desire from the depths of your gut, or a threat to something you hold so dear. Nerves can usually be attributed to something more on the surface and temporary, and for me it is much harder to get rid of. Isn’t that ironic? I guess it’s because my body knows it is not as big of a threat. I think both things are very important, though I think nerves are safe to try and dissuage, whereas fear needs to be felt. I don’t know where I’m going with this, other than to say I think I’ve learned the difference and it is important to know what you need in both circumstances.
    Cora recently posted…Is It Dangerous To Dream? (Thinking Out Loud)My Profile

    February 9, 2017 at 9:46 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I totally agree with you. It is funny, I wrote this THREE years ago, and at the time, I needed this direction, I needed to think about my nerves in this manner. Now, I’m not so sure that it is so cut and dry. Especially for us superfeelers.

      February 9, 2017 at 3:08 pm

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