The 3 Fears (Part 1)

This post turned out longer than I thought, quickly becoming a miniature book. So to make it easier for you to digest all the goodness to come, this post here is part 1. Please subscribe to the to stay updated of when part 2 is published. You wouldn’t want to miss out!

We all have fears. We really do. Some are very real and scary while others are imaginary but still very frightening.

My fear when I was younger was being stuck in the middle of the big, dark ocean not knowing what’s swimming around me and underneath me. Since you really can’t see past 4 feet under you in the middle of the ocean, there was no telling what could have been lurking around.

That made me feel scared. But this fear did not stem from some traumatic experience like if I had fallen out of a boat into the ocean when I was young and a fish nipped at my toes. This fear was imaginary, caused by watching too many Jaws films.

That and my dad owned piranhas (and still does) at home! Something about man-eating fish that didn’t gel with me, yet I retained a fascination for such creatures all my life. Funny, isn’t it?

Our very own fears can be our most fascinated topics we are curious about. It can be due to our lack of understanding, our inability to get past the fear or at least to learn how to deal with it, and the “out of sight, out of mind” approach to handling fear – and other things – that cause us to remain fascinated by those that we are afraid the most.

What I’ve noticed over time and through reading and observations are 3 main fears. There are many more of course, but these 3 following fears really can cripple a person … for life.

If not properly addressed, the fear(s) will remain a burden and obstacle to finding and realizing one’s full potential. I don’t want that to happen to you, to any of us.

The 3 Fears

Fear #1: Fear of Failure

This is a popular one. The fear of failure stops more people in their tracks from starting anything than any other fear. It is that powerful.

But there is good news. You are more powerful than this fear. You just have to realize it.

Let me give you a real-life example: me. I can speak from this poignantly because I am or have experienced this many times.

You may have read recently that I am quitting my corporate day job soon in order to follow my heart and passions that will truly make me happy. Doing something I dislike for 40 years of my life makes me miserable just hypothetically thinking it. Let alone actually doing it. So I had to make a decision:

  1. Get out.
  2. Stay in.

If I chose option #1, to get out of the situation, I had to make sure I wasn’t jumping into another situation of the same token. A frog leaping out of a pot of hot water into another pot of hot water isn’t helping its situation any better than if it had just stayed in the same pot.

If I chose option #2, to stay in the situation in which was making me feel sad, upset, frustrated, angry, depleted of all energy, and fairly depressed, I was sure to live a very average, boring and regrettable life.

You’re reading these words right now because I decided to choose option #1. Yay!

Am I scared of failing? Because if I failed, all the haters, risk avoiders, and those who like to play it safe would point at me, laugh, and say “Told you so! Idiot.”

Well, I don’t particularly care for such individuals. If that was the case, simply ignoring them is best.

What I am scared of is breaking my parents’ hearts.

As a matter of fact, due to my decision to not be a good little worker bee, I have, to some extent, been exiled from my own mother’s support and well wishes. It has broken my heart, pained me beyond measure, and is a very tough lesson in the price we have to pay in order to stand firmly by one’s decision that is best for that person.

This past Friday night was the worst night of my life. I adore and love my mom and to hear her say good bye and good luck to me as I venture, literally, on my own … words cannot describe this tremendous heartache.

I don’t know how your relationship with your parents are or were, but I hold mine dear to my heart. I certainly do not agree with many of their ways of doing things but that is because we are very different individuals, born of different generations and different upbringings. Of course certain viewpoints will clash.

But clash or no clash, I never intend to hurt my parents for the sake of doing things just because I can. I do things because it’s best for me and ultimately, I choose to live my life the way I need to in order for me to be happy. In an effort to honor my parents, I must live a bold and courageous life, where I take healthy risks that will further catapult me to an extraordinary life, rather than wishing and dreaming about one. I feel that is the best way to honor one’s parents, by living audaciously, fervently, and passionately.

I tell them I feel a part of me dying whenever I go to work, doing something I have no passion in. Am I being melodramatic? To some, yes, it seems like it. But truly, they do not know how I am feeling on the inside and it’s not just a one day emotion. It’s lasted, for months, if not years.

As a child, I never imagined my life to be like this: wake up at a God awful early hour in the morning when my body has not had enough rest, rush to work fighting morning traffic, come into the office and go to my 8×10 cubicle in which I will call my home for the next 8 hours of my life, take a lunch break by running around doing all the errands I need to do because I’ll be too exhausted by the time work lets out, and then churning away the remainder of the afternoon while I listen to coworkers sneeze, cough, yell at their children on the phones, swear and cuss at their wife/husband, and at precisely 5:00 (or few minutes beforehand), the place is quiet as can be with everyone dashed out the door.

This was not dreams were made of. This is a particular kind of living hell.

Parents want their children to be happy. Ask any parent. They want their child to be happy, safe, and healthy.

So if I fail in their eyes, I’m not just letting them down. It’d be equivalent to a major heartbreak, a huge disappointment, a waste, a shame.

In the Chinese culture, parents are extremely proud of their children, but only when that child has gone to school for Law, Medicine, Pharmacy, or Business. Never mind the Arts field or anything in the creative endeavors. These are deemed as hobbies, not as full-blown careers.

So in my choosing to pursue the creative arts, I have brought shame to my own family. They are no longer proud of the daughter they’ve raised, the one who holds a Masters in HR by age 24, who graduated with honors, who has always brought home A’s and has tried hard to not let them down. I am now viewed as someone incredibly foolish, immature, unstable, a disappointment, and a waste. Are these true? I do not believe so. But perception is reality, and right now, their perception of me is not in good light.

I am an exile, an outcast. One in which has not only quit one corporate job already, but is going to quit yet another one during this time of recession. Am I absolutely out of my mind? Am I insane?

I tell my parents, “Don’t worry about me.” But of course they worry.

I do not know what the future holds for me but I am certain it will not be a predictable one.

You see, failure is not an option for me. By my admittance to freeing myself from societal demands and leading a mediocre lifestyle, I have already succeeded.

Failure causes us to stop before we even start.

5 scenarios you may find yourself relating to or actually in:

Scenario 1: Organizing

“The closet is bursting at its door, and I’m a poor organizer. If I tend to keep everything, from the ketchup packets and straws at McDonald’s to my 3rd grade report card; how the heck am I supposed to just start throwing things out? Better to just ignore it and see how long I can go without addressing this problem …”

Scenario 2: Going Back to School

“I really want to go back to school; it’s been so long. But … then I’d need to save up money for tuition and books and I can’t afford that right now. I have my car payment still. Shoot! I also have to pay back my brother with the money he lent me. Yeah, better to hold off on school, just for a little bit. If I can’t even pay back some debt, how can I expect myself to get my stuff together for school? I’d fail before school even started!”

Scenario 3: Weight

“God, these 5 lbs. gained is really making me feel bad about myself. I want to start Jenny Craig but I don’t want to start until after all the weddings I’m going to are over with. Because I just know when I’m at the wedding, I’ll eat the food, cake, desserts, drinks, and all the good stuff there. We’re supposed to have a good time and I don’t want to have failed at the beginning of a program. Better to just wait it out …”

Scenario 4: Relationships

“My girlfriend is a real manipulator and perpetual liar. She hurts my feelings time and time again but I just can’t seem to break things off with her. We’ve been together for over 3 years, I can’t just throw away those years of my life invested into this relationship! I think that if I try to bring up her ways of hurting me, she’ll just get defensive and then we’d argue for hours. I just don’t have the energy for that. *sigh* Maybe it’s just me that’s the problem. Maybe I’m just being too sensitive.”

Scenario 5: Work

“I can’t believe I was passed up for a promotion, again! This is the 3rd time my boss gave another person on our team a promotion when I’ve been here longer than they have! I just don’t get it! Maybe I should ask him about this. No wait, I can’t just do that. It’ll seem as if I’m demanding a promotion and what if he gets upset? I don’t want to cause any trouble around here. I just wish he would give me the chance. I put in hard work around here too.”

Can you sense the fears holding back each of these persons in the above hypothetical scenarios? We start playing games in our heads, tricking ourselves that this fear is real and that we will fail inevitably, so let’s not “rock the boat,” shall we? Better to be a good little person and not say anything at all.

No. We cannot do this to ourselves. Realize that if you don’t say anything, the situation won’t change itself. So don’t be surprised if you wake up tomorrow and it’s the same thing again.

Change your situation by first changing your perspective regarding fear of failure.

In the next post, I’ll discuss the Fear of Success and Fear of Abandonment

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