If there's any time to recognise, address and face our biggest fears, it is now; in the month of spiders and ghouls, fake blood and creepy zombies, witches and scary clowns. October and Halloween, however, completely rest upon our most irrational fears, from mice to annual dental examinations and horror films. Fears of things that actually pose little to no danger at all in real life. Phobias, now that's something else entirely, but as few people suffer from those, I wanted to write about fears that are more common and are stopping us from living our lives without us even knowing it. I named all of my own fears below, linked them together and ended up with four big ones that are undoubtedly very recognisable to many of you. The key is - in fact - that 'recognising'-part because once you do, you get to figure out how to face them like I want to do. Read along.
FEAR OF FAILURE
You know the deal: from not sending in your CV because you're dreading being rejected from something you truly want to do, to actually believing you're not good enough to pull it off anyway. For me, personally, this has led to a lot of passed on opportunities and a bad sort of perfectionism when it comes to anything else that's not work-related. Beating myself up if one of these little blog posts of mine is not good enough, per silly example. The thing is, deep down, I know (like you should know about yourselves) that I'm capable of many things, and that this brain of mine is a kickass fast learner, knows its way around fancy words and can't wait to start on something challenging and satisfying to work on. It's just that it short-circuits when the time comes to act and then just chickens out at the last minute.
FEAR OF BEING STUCK
Throw this one in with fear of failure and you've got a pretty intense paradox ruling your mind, haven't you? I am constantly having tiny little panic attacks once my mind wanders off to the future. I, like just about everyone, I'm sure, have always wanted to do so many things. Accomplish so many goals. Now, at 28, I can't help but wonder if this is really all I'm ever going to do. And then you think about the past and all the things you could have done that you didn't do, and you blame yourself. And then you're stuck. Past and future, and you can't for the life of you imagine there's something else in between those two that's actually more important.
FEAR OF LONELINESS
This is a weird one for me, so let's just leave the lovey-dovey thing unmentioned and move on to friendships and family instead. I have a really big, unnecessary fear of not being liked by other people. Which is pretty stupid when you have as many great friends who - I'm going to make a wild assumption here - already like me and have liked me for years so they probably know me better than I know myself. However, I can't count the times when I regretted saying something quite negligible because I feel like it could lessen the degree in which they like me. I sometimes imagine someone being upset with me when it's totally not the case, am afraid of being found too weird, and have a radical fear of missing out whenever I can't go to a meeting or party, or any other kind of get-together for that matter. Throw all this together with the not-having-a-boyfriend part and you end up feeling like it's only a matter of time until you end up alone with your two cats (thank god for them but, you know... still).
FEAR OF BEING JUDGED
In light of the previous fear: part of the reason - or the root, even - for it is being a bit scared about what other people think of you and letting it rule your life. Not having the courage to share your true feelings because you're afraid to be laughed at or having your troubles swept aside, leads to a whole lot of cropped up frustration and uncertainty.
HOW TO FACE THOSE FEARS
- Write your fears down, really document them and try to remember how they have held you back up until this point. Just for yourself, or take the leap and I don't know... Throw it online for like-minded people to see. Write down your achievements as well. They will inspire you everytime you're feeling a bit hopeless.
- Try overcoming your fears one step at a time. At least type out that CV or make different ones for any sort of dream job. Try being yourself when you go out instead of going out of your way to please everyone.
- Believe in yourself. Oh, I know this sounds cheesy but it's SO necessary to keep writing it. For me and for all of you who feel the same. We have to know and believe we deserve something better before we can achieve it, right?
- Live courageously. Look towards heroes for inspiration (from the famous, Phoenix-rising-from-the-ashes story that is J.K. Rowling, to that one friend who is doing a badass job at living).
- Know you're not alone.
- Live in the present. So you kind of made a mess of the past, so what? As far as I know, there's still no way you can travel back in time and reverse a couple of decisions, so what use is it to keep thinking about your mistakes? And the future, well, it's scary to think about and the more time you spend on figuring out where you want to go, the less time you have to accomplish your goals and just enjoy life.
- Realise that life is an adventure. It can't be planned out entirely. You just get to set the course and see where the tide takes you.
- Imagine success.
- Try to see that your fears are silly, laugh at them even. Humour is key and never a bad idea.
- Appreciate your fears. Say whaaaat? That's right. You see, when you think about it, fear is the best guide to recognising an opportunity when it appears in your life. You're not going to be scared of a job interview when it doesn't mean anything, are you? Same thing goes for getting the jitters when talking to a person you like. Just be cool, and know above all that having nothing to fear is not brave, but facing those fears and getting through them is.
So let's go and make all fears as irrational as that basic spider fright, shall we?
Q: what's your biggest fear?