A life lived timidly is a life not lived.

Kerry - Bay Point, California
Entered on March 17, 2008
Age Group: 50 - 65
Themes: carpe diem, fear
  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.

“A life lived timidly is a life not lived.”

That sentence popped into my head unbidden this morning during a sunrise hike. I wish I could claim credit for the original thought. But I cannot. I think I read it someplace like the “Quotable Quotes” section of Reader’s Digest, and my mind just filed it away for later consideration.

It popped out of the file this morning like a forgotten acquaintance, asking me to chew on it while I walked among the wild turkeys and long shadows cast by the sun rising through the bare oak branches.

“A life lived timidly is a life not lived.”

Why does that simple sentence resound so mightily and profoundly with me? Because it sums up my entire life philosophy in one, simple-to-understand sentence.

Peel away the layers of the words.

If you live life timidly, you are afraid to try things, new things…things you might fail at, the hard things, the things that challenge us. But if we don’t test ourselves, we don’t know ourselves. We don’t know what we’re capable of achieving.

Like a child learning to walk, we need to test ourselves on the little things, and work our way up to the bigger things, the really scary things…the things that are scary because we are afraid we may fail at them. But we need to always try new things, face fears, dream what could be…take baby steps to make it happen. Eat the elephant of life “one bite at a time.”

Humans are capable of extraordinary things when we reach for that which is just out of grasp. But we must reach. Stretching to find your limits is the only way to surprise yourself and discover you have no limits…and bask in the wondrous joy that comes with that knowledge!

That’s what makes life exhilarating! That’s what makes it an adventure! Trying and conquering new things, things that interest us…finding what we like and pursuing those things with gusto because they give us pleasure. And because we like doing those things, we naturally become good, maybe even real good, or exceptional, at those things.

That success gives you the confidence to try something else that might interest you, and the cycle begins anew, until you realize you are capable of doing anything, and doing it well. So you find yourself trying new things often, becoming quite good at quite a few things, and joy creeps into your life.

Joy spreads throughout your life to everything you touch…family, friends, career, and you realize it is because you are happy. You have learned to “like” yourself because you are proud of yourself and your achievements. You like who and what you have become. Somewhere along the way, all that testing and stretching yourself in little steps has changed you. When you weren’t looking, or trying, you became an accomplished person. You became one of those self-confident, successful adults you always wished you could be more like.

To be truly happy in life, or at anything, you have to like yourself…and the surest way to like yourself is to learn about yourself by having the courage to address life’s challenges head-on…and discover delightful new things about yourself along the way.

Only by living life boldly and fearlessly can the real adventure of living begin. Until that happens, you are just an observer. You have no control. Who wants to be an observer in their own life?

Life is not for the timid.

Life is to be lived boldly…on your terms, testing yourself, pushing yourself, learning who you really are so you can become your own person…always evolving, pushing the limits, always becoming something new.

That is a life worth living. That is life fulfilled.