On Fear

Fear is tricky. It hides in the corner of your mind, holding you back or driving you towards insane goals so you can feel whole. Primitive, instinctual fear is continually trying to shout down or quietly subdue our rationality.

My fears weren’t always visible to me. I had to learn how to see them, and analyze where each of them came from.

I’m terrified of failure. I mean the type of failure where you don’t have a normal life waiting for you afterwards. I fear becoming forgotten, irrelevant—surrounded by people who have never known a life without confidence and success.

One of the things I fear the most is history repeating, despite all my foresight and effort.

I can’t hide. I wear my emotions on my sleeve. I try to approach things rationally, but I’m always reverting. A lot of my fear is tied to survival. Work/ life balance? Honestly, I’m too scared to slow down.

When we expose ourselves, we’re hoping people won’t laugh at us. Honesty is about dropping the defenses, and acknowledging our vulnerability. I’m typing these words as much to survive as anything else. What did Maslow say? Survive >> Thrive >> Self-actualize?

Legacy matters—it means our lives have purpose. Not having a purpose is an insane fear for a lot of people. We have to keep finding that purpose over and over.

Change is inevitable, you have to embrace it. We keep evolving as we go through our life. We’re never in the same place twice, never in the same situation twice.

Relationships matter. You can’t succeed unless other people want to see you succeed. I worry about living up to expectations, keeping my word. I’m just trying to be honest and not hurt anyone.

I fear rejection less than I used to. I’ve stopped fearing ridicule, but I’ve also learned to consider the sources. I have to remind myself that being criticized by a few people is a sign that you’re probably getting somewhere.

Everyone’s root fear seems to be being able to pass for normal. Not fucking up. Fitting in.

But trying too hard to fit in is also a path of compromise. I know this, but it doesn’t stop the irrational fear that people won’t like me, that they’re waiting for me to do something wrong, so they can just move on.

This fear comes from the knowledge that you can’t ever do it alone. Help is something you have to accept. Admitting you can᾿t do everything is the beginning of humility—knowing your limits.
Is humility a blessing or a curse? Success is something that I’ve always had to struggle and work my ass off for. I’m not sure I’ll ever be in a position to be anything but humble.

Would I be able to handle Big Success? I don’t know—I’m not at that level yet. Would I change? Would I start doing things just for the sake of having people continue to like me? I want to say “No”.

Being able to handle anxiety comes from hindsight and experience. I know I’ve lived a full, well-rounded, multi-faceted life, and that gives me a lot of experience to draw from.

We have a tendency to cover up fear with bravado, making it seem like we’re always in control. We accentuate the attributes we want people to notice and never talk about our failure, our pain or our difficult choices. We seldom talk about having to battle our inner doubts. When someone has achieved success, then it’s okay to talk about it. When we’re relatively safe, then we can spin it as a success story. The real trick is calling it a success story when you’re still in the middle of writing it.

Author: John Locke

SEO consultant for manufacturing and industrial companies.