Three Ways To Embrace The Unknown (And Scare Yourself Shitless)

By Emily Hopcian, Medellin and Cape Town Alumni 2017

Do you fear the unknown or embrace it? When ideas and dreams take shape in your mind, do you breathe life into the kindling or extinguish the spark before it can even become a flame?

For many, or perhaps all of us, it’s a mixture of both. There are some ideas, dreams and cravings we fully embrace. We dive right in and watch the world unravel around us.

Then there are the others. Those times when we imagine all the great things our ideas could be, but we never pull the trigger to see them through.

I’ve been there. For some ideas and projects, I’m still there. I’ve had my fair share of shying away from the unknown, times where I’ve pushed aside my ideas — both in terms of creative projects and in life — for one reason or another.

Why do we do this? Are we afraid our idea might not blossom the way we want it to, the way we imagine it will? Are we afraid it might mean something other than what we think it means?

When it comes down to it, I think it’s something a little more simple: we’re afraid of the unknown.

We’re part of a constant battle. Fear on one side, intrigue on the other. It’s the tension between the two that makes us human.

Yet the moments we most remember — those which make our stories rich, our lives worth living and our dreams worth pursuing — are the ones where we just say yes. When we plunge head first into the things that scare the shit out of us.

Jason Jaggard, the speaker and social innovator, shares something that hits at the heart of this. He says, “There are things that are meant for you that are beyond your wildest imagination. Be open to them; be willing to let go.”

So how do we make that leap? It looks different for all of us, but here are three approaches you can try on for size.

  1. Develop habits that contribute to your idea.
    There’s immense power in developing good habits that help us chip away at our dreams. Break your idea down, determine what needs to be done to make it a reality and work to make those elements, especially the ones that scare you, a practice daily. Start small. Then, once the practice becomes a habit, continue to build and shape how that habit contributes to your big idea.
  2. Live with an intentional community that pushes you.
    Surrounding ourselves with intentional, inspiring and encouraging communities is key. In embracing the unknown a little more fearlessly, I’ve found my support and encouragement from my own personal communities, as well as my Unsettled Medellín family.
  3. Share yourself, your voice, your art with the world — even if you don’t feel ready.
    This is a big one for me, and it’s something I think the creative community struggles with. There’s a great deal of fear attached to leaping too early. “Ready,” “just right” and “perfect” aren’t real; they’re excuses we make to hold onto our art a little bit longer. Be fearless in sharing your art with the world because the world needs your art. And don’t just do it once. Dream, create and share over and over again.

I’m not saying this will be easy. There will be times when you have to fight like crazy for your idea to survive and evolve, but if you can make it over your biggest hurdles — or even if you don’t but you try and try and try again — your idea will inevitably begin to take shape and grow.

For several years, I dreamt of living internationally. I didn’t know exactly where. I just knew I wanted to live outside the U.S. As the dream grew, so too did my vision. I knew I wanted to live somewhere that would challenge me.

Unsettlers in Medellín prepare to take a literal leap and paraglide over the Andes

I honed in on Argentina and made the leap last year. It was a move that simultaneously excited me beyond belief and scared the shit out of me. In moving down here, I didn’t know what to expect. There were a lot of unknowns. I questioned the move at times; my family and friends questioned it, too. I came anyway. Now, seven months in, I can’t imagine life without having made this leap.

When you finally dive into your dreams, it doesn’t matter if they’re fully formed, half-baked, or just a crazy hunch. What matters is that you go for it. You’ll never know the possibilities that lie just over the horizon, until you make that first step.

Emily Hopcian is a writer and content marketer based in Bariloche, Argentina. She is currently Storytelling & Content Manager at One World Play Project. Check out more of her writing at

Are you preparing to embrace the unknown? Read more about how living Unsettled in Medellín can help you take that first step…


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