Fast forward 12 years. I wake up in the morning to gray clouds and my head starts churning out thoughts - will I still be able to walk to work or will I have to spend $4 on my commute? Will I be able to find something to wear that won't be ruined? Will I have to wash my hair as soon as I'm back because it'll be frizzy? Will I..Should I.. Do I.. Ugh Rain..
Why? What changed in the past few years? Fear entered my life.
Fear of failing (interview). Fear of excelling (threatening to others). Fear of past (repeating mistakes). Fear of future (not predicting/choosing right). Fear of being wrong (predictions). Fear of being right (rubbing off the wrong way). Fear of job (giving it my best). Fear of people (what do they think). Fear of gaining (unwanted pounds), fear of losing (friends).
When I was 16, I decided I wanted to transfer schools because I didn't feel challenged. I did my research, found the best match, and set my sights on it. I applied to just that 1 school that I really wanted to go (hazardous, attempt at home at your own risk). I finally got invited for an intense 2-day interview in Pune and my mom said one thing to me as I got ready for Day 1 of grueling - if you start to focus on the result of your interview, you'll be taking away from your focus on your actions to get you to your desired result. What she meant was if I feared one way or another about the result of the interview being favorable or not, I would have less time and energy to contribute to my actions and my responses.
Couple of years later, I decided to apply to just the few journalism programs in the U.S. that I wanted to attend and worked very hard for it, remembering my mom's tip, forgetting about the result for the moment (it was easier never having met my competition until I got to school and met my peers). Now, I'm looking at MBA programs and can't help be filled with fear - of rejection, of competition, of making the wrong choice, of not being good enough. I'm scared and I can't seem to shake it out of my system.
How many times have you walked into the interview and been afraid you might be under- or over-dressed? How many times have you made a presentation and been scared whether people liked it or not?
How many times have you invited friends to watch a movie and been thinking all during it whether they are liking it or not and not just that, but if they're not liking it, what they might think of your taste?
How many times have you cooked for your S/O and kept thinking about them not enjoying the food?
How many times have you had a fight with your sibling not because you cared to be right, but because you didn't want to be the one who was wrong?
When we were young, we felt like we were in the driver's seat of our lives and could choose to take whichever highway to which ever destination we wanted to get to. Yes, there was friction on the road, but we owned the road. Now, we've collected too much traffic an too many roadblocks along the way. We can't decide when to stop, where to turn, where to speed, our actions are just the equation result of all the other variables on the road. It's not as simple as I want this, I'll strive to get this or 1 + 1 = 2.
We often feel or complain that things are more out of our control now. Maybe we created more roadblocks along the way for ourselves? Maybe we let ourselves give up control over our own actions. Maybe we surrendered to our environment and to all those other variables along the road? (And then we complain even more about things not going our way). We decided to take the escalator instead of the stairs and complain it ain't going fast enough or high enough.
At 20, I bought a skydiving coupon and was so excited for the summer to go jump out of a plane to experience the sensation of gravitational flight. If someone asked me today if I want to go skydiving, I have too many fears of too many things going wrong. Has skydiving changed over the years (if anything, probably got safer with newer technology) but it's me who changed. It's my way of thinking that changed. It's my fears that are new (I requested a refund on the coupon recently).
Fear can prevent us from attempting that which we think we might fail at.
Fear can prevent us from being who we think others might not like or approve of.
Fear can prevent us from achieving that which we want because we never tried or stayed true to ourselves. But you know, that which is never attempted, never transpires.
Fear is why we stop participating in new experiences and taking on risks, choosing the comforts of certainty and monotony.
We see this everywhere. People won't try a new cuisine because they're afraid they won't like it. People won't compliment their friend's outfit because they're afraid she'll look better at the party. People won't treat their kids' S/Os well, because they're afraid they won't be loved as much with this new person around. People fear suggesting a new efficient way of working because their manager might not like the idea.
If people remained scared of falling off the edge of the earth, we would have never known it was round.
If people feared alien-attacks after space explorations, we would have never figured the solar system out.
If people were afraid of failure and their research being a waste, so many cures would never have been found.
Pack up fear in a box and store it in your attic or basement. Think and act like a 12-year-old who was fearless in stealing chocolate from the fridge or playing in the sandbox until you couldn't remember the color of your skin. When you were focused on your action, you forgot about the repercussions and just focused on the present moment. Give it another try in your life.
Here are some interesting facts:
-- Edison failed 1,000 times before inventing the light bulb. His response? "I didn't fail 1,000 times, the light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps."
-- Henry Ford went broke five times before being successful.
-- Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team. (watch: Jordan - Failure commercial)
To close out, don't fear results, don't fear failure, don't fear people, don't fear opinions. Be yourself and who you really are stripped off of these layers and layers of dirt and fears. And remember yesterday we decided not to be attached to the results of our actions, if you're not attached, you shouldn't be fearing them either. On that note, I'm going to go book my skydiving jump for this summer...
... And leave you kids with my mom's lesson, rephrased:
"No matter how hard you work for success, if your thought is saturated with the fear of failure, it will kill your efforts, neutralize your endeavors and make success impossible."