I am scared

I guess it all started when I was a little kid. I didn't even notice, back then.

When I was about six, I learned about how the world has enough water for everyone, but unfortunately it's all salt water. I also learned about evaporation, and that you basically get distilled water for free with it. So, my little kids mind went to work combining these two effects and created a scheme to water the worlds deserts. It's quite simple, actually. You take a few sheets of glass, mount them at an angle, add a few pipes as well as a pump adding seawater under the panes, and instantly you can start harvesting freshwater suitable for nurturing crops. I was sure, with this simple scheme you could generate enough fresh water to make the deserts green. After all, that's what happens in clouds, too, right? And actually, that scheme does work: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_desalination

But, as you probably know, I did not succeed in my grandiose plans, and thus the deserts still remain unwatered. Why did I not do anything? Because I was scared. Scared by my own courage, scared by all the things no one else would do to help me, scared of leaving my cozy little middle-class comfort zone. So I remained inert, even though the little voice in my head mocked me for not doing what I knew was necessary.

Fifteen years later I finished school and went to university. A wonderful environment for anyone who wants to learn at crazy speeds, and so I did. I met lots of people, some of whom had started a business when they were still in school. I knew that this was what I wanted to do, too. Start a business, be productive, be successful, be happy. But there was so much else to do. Studying. Girls. Exams. Learning. And even though I read all the essays by Paul Graham, witnessed many Internet business started and ended, saw the bubble rise and burst and I was always this close to doing it myself. I could see the changes coming, could see all the niches still unfulfilled, some of them as large as whole industries were before. I felt the changes in people's behaviors when they found what the Internet and modern computers could do for them, and I knew that the technology would revolutionize most areas of business there are. I talked with my friends about how we would be part of that revolution, how we would kill the old beasts and be masters of the new economy. We had plans, we knew what we had to do, and in retrospect, we were actually right there, too. Most of the ideas were realized sooner or later by people who were scarily successful with them.
But I didn't do anything about it. I was scared. Scared to start without a degree, scared to be responsible for myself, scared to lose the fine little progress I had made for myself. I found arguments, easy and lazy arguments why I shouldn't start a business, why I should be careful and think about it some more. And yet, the little voice was still there, still mocking, still nagging.

It stayed that way for almost ten more years.

But then, somehow, the excuses started dropping away. I had a finished degree, I was safely employed, health-insured, in a stable relationship, had travelled far and wide, I had started doing sports, had bought all the things I never thought I'd buy and I had safely arrived in the adult world. I even started learning to play music to take my mind away from all the things I should be doing.

And then, finally, the last piece fell into place. I plunged. I quit my PhD studies, stayed employed half-time and started my first business. The voice in my head was excited: I was actually doing what I was supposed to do, and what so many had showed me before.

And now, I am two months in. I am more scared as ever, but I can see the things that scare me now, clearly. I'm still scared by all the red tape, of which I have to take care. I'm still scared of all the lawyers, accountants, guidelines, tax laws, chambers of commerce, customers, competitors and customers that are already involved in my business and who will be involved in the future. And I've only scratched the surface. But everything is so clear, now. There's no voice mocking me for my failure to launch, because I launched. There's no boss in my face to tell me what to do and what not to do, because I am my own boss. The scare is now in front of me, so I can cope with it.

It has taken twenty-five years, almost all my life, but I have finally arrived in the place I wanted to reach since I was a child. I took the muffled scares that surrounded me and placed them crystal clear in front of me. Now I can deal with them.

And so can you!