All obstacles have one thing in common: you. The
only thing standing between you and what you want
is all that chatter in your head.
“But, Mel, I can’t stop that chatter; I can’t get rid of the doubt
running around in my head,” you say.
Of course you can’t. I’m not asking you to. I’m asking you to
move forward in the face of it. You might not be able to control
your thoughts, but you do control the actions you take. It isn’t
easy, but it’s the only answer. I learned the hard way.
I was 22 years old. And let me be honest—I talked a good
game about being confident—but inside, I was full of self-doubt,
just like you.
After working for a year as a paralegal in D.C., I decided that
I wanted to be a lawyer, an environmental lawyer. I applied
(sight unseen) and was accepted to Vermont Law School. I
pulled my U-Haul into South Royalton, Vt. But something didn’t
As I registered for classes,
the feeling grew. As I unpacked
my things, I just felt more
and more uneasy. Something
wasn’t right. I didn’t sleep at
all that night. I had made the
wrong decision. I could feel it
in my gut.
I waited for the registrar’s
office to open the next morning.
I walked in and told them I
wanted to drop out. I walked
back to my room, repacked all
my things and drove off. As I
pulled onto Interstate 91 south,
I realized something: I didn’t have a Plan B.
A wave of self-doubt flooded over me. What did I just do?
There was no recovering from this. My parents were going to
kill me. I drove and I cried. I had to do something, so I thought:
What schools are nearby? Boston College was only three hours
away. Only one problem—they never accepted me. I was on the
I called my only friend in Boston
from a pay phone at the next gas
station. I asked if I could stay with her
and told her my plan. She said I could
stay with her. She had nothing good to say about my plan.
The chatter in my head was louder than ever as I pulled
into the law school and walked into the admissions office. The
receptionist looked up. “Can I help you?”
“Hi, my name is Mel, and I want to go to school here so badly
that I just dropped out of Vermont this morning, packed up
all my belongings and drove here, hoping you could make an
exception and let me start classes tomorrow morning.”
“Are you serious?” she asked.
I pointed to the U-Haul out the window. “Yes, very.”
Twenty minutes later, I was sitting across from the dean. The
chatter still raging in my head as I argued my case, “Someone
with enough guts to push aside doubt, show up with a U-Haul
and talk their way off the waiting
list will make a great lawyer.” The
dean agreed. I started classes the
The number and size of the
problems I faced that day were
too big and too numerous to even
fathom. But listening to that truth
would have just been me telling
myself stories in my head. I beat
the voices in my head to get more
than I could have ever imagined.
The obstacles in your day-today
life are just stories you’ve
made up. They’re just chatter.
You’ll never quiet the chatter, so you might as well move
forward anyway. What have you got to lose?
The rest of your life is sitting just on the other side of all
Mel Robbins is a nationally syndicated radio talk show host, CNBC contributor,
spokesperson for Microsoft and serial entrepreneur.