My ten-year old self who wanted to be a wildlife biologist, living in Africa, grew up to be a 20-something college student who had no idea how to pursue that job and frankly, allowed fear to guide her decisions.

Sure, I could’ve figured it out, talked to professors, gone to grad school and been on my way. Hell, I even had an opportunity to study guanacos (like a wild llama) in Patagonia, living in a shack with a few other people for a few months.

And why, you ask, did I not go? Patagonia, Steffany, PATAGONIA. Have you seen the photos?


I told myself a multitude of things – I didn’t know how to speak Spanish. The opportunity didn’t pay, so how would I afford it? What if I got sick? What would I do? Where would I go?

Do you hear all that fear, creeping in slowly, determining my fate for me? Yuck.

I don’t regret not becoming a wildlife biologist. But I do wonder. Where would it have taken me? What would I have learned, beyond the obvious? Would I have a different spirit than now? I’m thankful for the path I’ve taken, the other opportunities I chose, my life has been amazingly full and fun and bizarre at times.

How often does it happen that we not only listen to the doubts, we embellish them and make them bigger, giving them control, and suddenly and rather willingly, they make the decision. Not our hearts or our minds. Fear does.

Makes me think of the poet, Shel Silverstein and his poem, “Listen to the Mustn’ts” from Where the Sidewalk Ends


Listen to the MUSTN’TS, child,
Listen to the DON’TS
Listen to the SHOULDN’TS
Listen to the NEVER HAVES
Then listen close to me-
Anything can happen, child,
ANYTHING can be. 

I didn’t listen to you Shel. I don’t know why. I must have read this poem 1,000 times as a child. Came back to me so quickly when I was writing tonight.

Why do we allow fear to hop in the driver’s seat, kick that bad boy into 3rd gear and play it safe? When all we really want to do is knock up into 5th, push down on the pedal and see what the machine can do.

We do it because, well…It’s easy that way.

I’ve chosen the easy road a number of times.

What a thing to acknowledge.

Let me pause here a moment, for myself, and really process this thought because to be honest, it’s kind of a shit-kicker. I’VE CHOSEN THE EASY ROAD. road-1747457_1280All right. And so now, here I am. At a point where I can turn and do the easy thing because the fear responsibility I feel will totally talk me into it – it pays well, insurance, your children, not living paycheck to paycheck, what if you don’t get published, what if nobody reads the blog, what if, what if, what if?

I hate that game.

I read this quote recently –

“Fear is not real. It is the product of thoughts you create. Danger is very real, but fear is a choice.”

Dang, people. Fear is a choice. A choice. Powerful stuff.

And so I will continue to do the work, the tiring, relentless, kick-you-when-you’re-down-can’t-think-of-a-damn-thing-to-write, work.

We, will continue to do the hard work, whatever that is for all of us, because we want to see how far we can go, we want to feel the lessons we haven’t experienced yet, we want to test the limits of our passion.

We want to shine.

One of my most favorite quotes speaks it better than I ever could.