On Fearing Change: When It’s Time to Take a Leap of Faith


“Don't fear failure so much that you refuse to try new things. The saddest summary of life contains three descriptions: could have, might have, and should have.” ~Unknown

There are two basic human emotions that are the driving force behind each thought, each daily inspiration, and that rare but pivotal new-chapter, life-changing decision. Those things are fear and love.

The funny thing, however, is that they are intertwining forces. In order to feel passionately about something, fear and love must coexist.

One year ago I made what some people would consider an irrational decision. I had a great job, a flexible boss, and rainbow-colored work walls, to boot.

I had a circle of close-knit, happy-hour-loving girlfriends who brought overflowing amounts of joy and adventure to my life. Together we’d paint Los Angeles red, fly to Chicago on a “girls’ trip” whim, and celebrate each other’s birthdays in Las Vegas.

Within our friendly beach-side neighborhood were my favorite Thai restaurant, faithful yoga studio, and the best omelet breakfast spot within a five miles radius of each other. My adoring family was a short one-hour Southwest flight away, so I could always access TLC from mom and dad.

I was comfortable, I was happy, but most of all I was where everyone wants to be—safe.

Halfway through the best year of my life to date I decided to make a monumental move. I quit my rainbow-walled job and applied to graduate schools abroad.

Skimming potential programs I narrowed my choices to three well-known major metropolitan cities: London, Paris, and Barcelona. After much deliberation, I decided that while London is bubbling with energy and the French have the most delicious buttery croissants I’ve ever tasted, Barcelona was my true calling.

A California water-loving girl at heart, I can never be far from warm sunshine or the familiar stretch of sandy beaches.

Upon arrival and the few months following, the unexpected feeling of homesickness hit me like a mid-summer tidal wave in the South Pacific. I was alone in this foreign place, aching in my heart and missing my safe life.

As we oftentimes do when it comes to big decisions, career changes, or new mortgages, I doubted myself and the choice I had made.

While waist deep in fear and doubt, strangely enough I was also on an exhilarated high. Each morning run was an adventure; each trip to the market, something new.

Even though there was a high probability I’d get lost en route, the miniature unknowns were breathtaking and exciting. I never knew who I would meet or where I would be that weekend.

I took day trips to lining Costa Brava towns and tried yoga classes spoken in a foreign tongue. Getting back into the classroom was a bit awkward, but I submersed myself in bulky case studies and writing, something that has always calmed my racing mind.

Slowly but surely, I made a circle of international friends and discovered new cultures, colorful cuisines, and a fascinating European way of life. In time, I opened my heart again and found more love and laughter than I ever dreamed possible between two people.

Despite the initial difficulty, it was worth every chaotic moment to reach this place.

Life is too short and far too precious to waste time going through the safe motions that distract us from what will really bring us joy. It can be big, or it can be a small, or it can be somewhere in the middle.

It can be the fear of quitting your nine-to-five job to finally pursue your love affair with the culinary arts. Or running the marathon that you’re too afraid to try. Or starting the business you’ve always dreamed of.

Or, it can very well be finally overcoming your fear of stage fright at Monday Karaoke night for your love of singing.

In our current world where stimulated ideas, new opportunities, and innovative minds are so openly welcomed, oftentimes the biggest thing standing in the way is ourselves.

So take the leap of faith in yourself, or someone else for that matter. Go back to school or even an online school, finally start your blog, or accomplish the resolutions that have been making cameos on your New Year’s list for the past five years standing.

At the end of it all, we all have two life lists: All the things we actually did, and all the things we wish happened.

Focus on building the first list, starting right here and now.

About Jeanelle Rabadam

Jeanelle Rabadam is an MBA graduate living in Barcelona, Spain.  She started her blog, Tasting the World, to document her adventures for friends and family back home. She’s discovered a deeply rooted passion for writing and delivering not only personal experiences but also a positive message full of love, light and laughter for each post.

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  • We all fear change. I feel that tinybuddha posts are a lot related to things I read around in books and the things I actually want to talk about. Alvin Toffler wrote a wonderful book called ‘future shock’ where he tells how change comes faster than we think and how it becomes the biggest threat of the existence of our civilization.

    Adopting to change is not always possible though. And Jeanelle, like your personal experiences, there are thousands of people fearing change. And we’re adding ourselves to a century where change happens faster than our ability to adopt to it.

  • Chanshiyam


  • Great article, really what i needed this morning

  • Samantha

    I am starting graduate school on Monday – for Writing 🙂 I have gotten quite a bit of criticism but have also received a lot of support. I’m not happy in my field and though I have no idea where this degree will lead, I know that years down the road, I would regret it if I didn’t do anything. Thank you for your article – it reaffirms all that I have had to tell myself throughout the application process.

  • Louise

    Change often happens whether we want it to or not. So it can be difficult for many and often times can lead to depression, anxiety attacks, migraines. We always want to know “why” something is happening. I know I often try to figure it out. But what fun is that? Just enjoy the ride.

    I believe it is how we respond to any sort of change that really affects our emotional well-being. I’ve been through divorce, relocation and have raised two children, so clearly change is part of what I do…Lol!!.

    I have always tried to practice embracing change because I have come to learn that it is ALWAYS good, even when it has brought tears to my eyes or an ache to my heart. Our “expanded self” knows our needs better that our “conscious self”. It is part of the life process.

    @Samantha, Bravo for your decision to follow your heart. And you don’t need to know where this degree will lead. Just know that you will be happy you did it.

    Thank you for this beautiful post Jeanelle.

  • itsallaboutyou

    Oh wow, what a wonderful read. I needed to read exactly something like this. In life we have blips, little huddles along the way. As long as the end result is success it really doesn’t matter. My aim in life is to have more items on my list of ‘have done’, than on the list of ‘I wish I’d done.’ A truly lovely read. Thank you. 🙂

  • MOM

    I read your first published article over and over again. It has been a permanent imprint in my mind the day we left for the airport and you were walking back to the Metro Station by yourself and I told myself…”This is it, she will be fine and she will make it”. I always listened to your dreams and plans and I gave you my love and support to every tough decision, choices and changes you made and now it has been a year since you made one of the most difficult decisions you ever made.

    The leap of Faith you took made you stronger, wiser, smarter, and admired by your peers and friends. I never doubted your ability and determination. I am so proud of you. I love you…MOM

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  • Defammes

    Hello Jeanelle, thank you for your story!! I received it through my best friend Elisa, from Denver. I am living in Holland and I had goosebumps (it that the right word?) all over after reading!! Very brave, very inspiring!! Wish you lot’s of happiness!

  • Jeanelle

    Hi Defammes…. Thank you for your kind words! If you are considering a change, do it. I’ve never regretted this one. It has been a life-changing adventure here in Spain but I am ready to continue it… I am actually moving to Holland next month! I’ll write about it in my blog 🙂 Best of luck in all your future ventures…

  • Jeanelle

    Good luck Samantha!! Grad school is a great adventure. Like I said, it was awkward to be back in the classroom but it has been the best personal and professional choice I have made thus far.

  • Faith is good…

  • Wow, what a brave thing to do. Great post!

  • Heidi Jamison

    Do you hear that?! From the other side of the world it’s me, doing the happy dance and applauding you (in a circular motion) while I exclaim, “YOU GO GIRL!” Based upon our last Facebook exchange, I believe I can assume that you have done some “marinating” and will continue moving full speed ahead.

    So glad to read it!
    Much love

  • Thank you, Jeanelle for writing this article. I was close to tears while I was reading it. I did the same thing 12 years ago! Left my home country, cosy well paid job, my parents vast apartment …. for the adventure of knowing this world and why not say living! And the city of my choice was exactly Barcelona!

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  • don droga

    Sounds like your old life was great. Leaps of faith are over rated. The people whom I most admired while traveling the world are those who are happy where they are.

  • don droga

    Why put ourselves through such anguish? Yes change does happen but if we keep taking leaps of faith to prove something to ourselves or escape something then pain will ensue.

  • don droga

    People say that to me ~ brave, from the context of their own lives. I can’t stand it. Congratulating me for my own stupidity. We are where we are – always.

  • don droga

    In what?

  • don droga

    ‘Eat Prey Love’ has infected your minds.

  • Lori Doyle Trawick

    I have read this article many times and each time I take away something different from it. Thank you for putting what I am sure so many of us feel into your well-crafted words.

  • Yvie N

    I hear you!! I took a leap of faith in March left my job to commit to opening a place for human trafficking girls and children that are abused and neglected. I always felt compelled like Mother Theresa to heal the world. I finally got my 501 c3 just last week. Left my job, evicted from my beautiful aparment, holding on to my faith and believing that God has greater. It still is tough because I have no income and just am trying to see how to
    get this going… just wanted to tell you I understand when your being called to the great unknown. I pray we continue to see beyond the left and right and look directly straight. Thanks for sharing! You can follow me on instagram yvieinspire_jesusyvie and facebook yvie negron

  • gounei

    Feeling down much?