The Fear Factor. What Would You Do If You Weren’t Afraid?
Though I haven’t read Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s book Leaning In yet (it is on my reading list), one of the main ideas central to the book that I’ve been hearing about has resonated with me: fear. Fear of what people think of you. Fear of what you cannot do. Fear of what you haven’t even tried yet. Fear of taking a first step. Fear of trying something never attempted before. Fear.
It is amazing how something intangible can control us and mold us. It is impossible to believe that it isn’t a walking and talking entity isn’t it? Physically holding us back and blocking our way.
Oh, the Things You Could Do….
There is a quote: “To get something you’ve never had you must do something you’ve never done.” How is it possible to do anything with fear standing in your path? What would you be able to do if you didn’t allow all of those silly things you are afraid of get in your way? The answer honestly is not much if you allow it to stop you dead in your tracks. What I’ve found is that the root of most fear grows from thoughts of what someone else is going to think about you. My question is why do you care so much about what someone else thinks about you? Attempting to read someone’s mind is a tiresome exercise and rarely yields the results that you hope for. Why not care more about how you will feel knowing that you missed a great opportunity because you were scared to take a chance?
What would you do though? Would you take those tango lessons? Would you talk to that chick in Accounting? Would you start your own business? Would you sleep later? Would you wear a hat? I’ve been amazed at the things that people have told me they don’t do or wouldn’t do all out of the fear of it ‘looking stupid’. Really? It’s a little sad when you limit your life and your possibilities in that way; all reduced to how something will ‘look’.
A BA Degree In Fear.
When I was in college I was known for hanging out in the library. Before every graphic design project I would go and gather around 30 books. It was my ritual; my research…or at least I would tell myself that. Don’t get me wrong. I did and still do adore books, but I would spend over half my time ‘researching’. Then I would finally come up with my idea and then get started executing it with much hesitation. I never had enough time to finish my work so therefore many of my design projects sucked more than they should have. Looking back I realize I was scared. Scared my work wasn’t going to look as good as Ali’s, not be as well thought out as Maria’s, and my exacto knife skills wouldn’t match Isobel’s. I was pretty frozen and left undone by comparing myself to others and being afraid I wouldn’t match up.
I realize now how silly that all was. It is sad to think I wasted so much time being scared. It has definitely made me a little more of a risk-taker when it comes to trying new things with my artwork. I know it sounds dramatic but I’ve vowed to not allow my fear to stop me from creating or being creative. No matter how coocoolicious others believe me to be. Doesn’t matter. I’m being true to myself. That’s more important.
There are some pretty serious repercussions to allowing your fear to take control. Here are a few:
Five Consequences of Fear Ruling Your World.
- You Over-extend Yourself. Simply put, you don’t know how to say no. You are scared that others will believe you are mean, so you say yes…to everything. But does saying ‘yes’ to everything really make you nice or simply scared to say no?
- You Don’t Dream. You are scared to dream for fear of what you consider ‘eventual’ disappointment. You have to dream. Hopes and dreams are what strengthen our spirits when it seems like the chips are down. They are our light at the end of the tunnel, the silver lining of that cloud, the sun that comes out tomorrow, the…well you get the picture.
- People Don’t Know Who You Really Are. If you are afraid to share your feelings and thoughts concerned others with have a problem with them, how will others know how or what you really think about things?
- You Don’t Fall In Love. Don’t need to say much here do I? Love of anything or anyone leaves you vulnerable. Most of us don’t like to be left that wide open. But I know if I hadn’t fallen in love with art at such a young age I wouldn’t be the person I am today…and I definitely like me.
- You Can’t Reach Your Full Potential. Fear leaves you in such a weakened state; it compromises your potential to succeed. Using up so much energy worrying about problems that don’t exist and cowering in corners leaves you pretty spent and a little too tired to follow through when it comes to getting things done.
I’m not saying that you aren’t ever going to be scared. Of course you are. Fear is a natural reaction to challenges that we sometimes face. It is what you do in spite of your fear that can define you today, tomorrow, and for a lifetime.