02/01/2013 05:51 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Groundhog Day Is Less Absurdly Stupid Than You Think

Ah, groundhog day: a time when we seek out a wood-eating rodent to predict something that we can accurately calculate with advanced weather logarithms. On the surface, this age-old tradition seems about as meaningful as National Chocolate Ice Cream Day. But if we look a little deeper, we can actually distill a lot of wisdom from its underlying themes. Yeah, you read that right: if we grab an electron microscope and look hard enough, there's actually something kind of profound underneath the whole talking-to-a-woodchuck thing. Let's break it down: so, a groundhog fears his shadow. When he sees the thing he fears, he runs away into the depths of his dirt cocoon, where he can gnaw on a dresser leg or something in avoidance. He literally buries the issue. Uhh, that's a pretty apt metaphor for how humans handle fear, isn't it?

Too often, when we have a big decision to make that scares us, we bury ourselves in the proverbial groundhog hole. Not wanting to fail or make the wrong choice, we avoid action, convincing ourselves that we have to know the outcome before we take the plunge. Of course, there's no humanly way to foretell how a decision will affect our lives unless we're Psychic Cleo. But that unknowingness can loom so large that it stops us from doing things that can advance our goals. Hell, we might be so paralyzed by fear that we never take action, and instead we sink into a regressing quick sand that keeps us trapped in stagnancy for years. Think about it: how many crappy relationships have we stayed in because we were too afraid to face the unknown alone? How many unsatisfying jobs have we stuck with because we were comfortably unchallenged, and the prospect of finding something new seemed too daunting?

When fears dictates our decision-making, it holds us back from what could have been. Sometimes, we just have to grow a pair, take a risk, and experience a few failures to start living a life that really matters to us. So, to help us all face and embrace our fears, we've asked our friends at Roadtrip Nation to provide some visual inspiration. In the video below, you'll find a few conversations they've had with people who have overcome their fears and taken risks -- even when everyone else told them they were crazy. We hope their stories will inspire you to boldly go for things in life, even when you're scared shitless of failure. After all, failure is just one part of the story; it's not the end of it. The only real failure is a life not lived. As for the groundhog? From now on, let's stop viewing him as a furry weatherman, and instead view him as a cautionary example to emerge from our burrows and face our fears. Because seriously, observing a marmot is probably the most insane solution for determining whether we need to wear a sweater outside.

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By: Alyssa Frank