Some adult language ahead! ~ Ed.
I have a fear of rejection.
I’m afraid of being told “no.” I’m afraid that people won’t like me. I’m afraid of looking stupid and getting my feelings hurt.
My mind instinctively creates outcomes to situations that haven’t happened yet.
But when I’m afraid, and I don’t know what to do…I do what scares me.
Fear is a total illusion. It’s an internal experience that grows in power as long as it stays up in our heads. When I express fear and share it with someone else, I’m able to recognize the false projection that it actually is. It’s a neurological response to an infinite variable: the unknown.
There’s a stance on fear from stoic philosophy: The obstacle is the way. The idea is that once a fear has been recognized, the mission is to move toward it—to face it.
Fortunately for us, most fears share a common theme: fear of rejection, fear of failure, or fear of embarrassment. So ideally, we should be able to identify our fears with ease. The trick is understanding that fear is only experienced within. No one else is concerned with what you do or don’t do. In fact, to the rest of the world, you’re just a character in their own sitcom.
I used to be afraid of playing music on stage. I created a narrative to help me face it:
“Nobody really gives a shit. Like, the people at the bar are in their own world. They really don’t care.”
But what if you suck? My fear would nag.
Spoiler alert: You probably will.
It’s much easier to cope with my fear when I know and accept that I’m gonna suck. That way, as long as I don’t spontaneously combust on stage, any outcome from the experience is a win.
I tell myself that I’m going to die. Like, it’s going to happen, so why not go for it? When I’m dead, I’m not gonna care that the people in the bar formed a posse to wrangle me off stage.
I used to be afraid of sharing my writing on Facebook.
“What will people think of me? Will they like it? What if they think I’m someone I’m not?”
Spoiler alert: Everyone thinks you’re someone your not. Hell, you don’t even know who you are most of the time.
And, people probably won’t like it. In fact, you’ll most likely be ignored. They’ll scroll past your status the same way you scroll past every viral video, animal photo, and socially charged rant that’s begging you to read an article about something that may or may not be important.
There’s no way to tell, but that’s not what matters. What matters is that you tried.
I used to be afraid of talking to attractive women.
Spoiler alert: You’re still afraid of talking to attractive women.
Maybe if you work out more, it’ll help your self-confidence? Nope. Nobody cares how often you work out or how far you can run—especially not girls.
What if you make a really funny video or show off your skateboarding skills? Maybe that’ll help? Nope. Pretty girls are immune to whatever you’re posting online. They don’t exist behind the screen. They exist in front of you, in reality.
But then I remember: the obstacle is the way.
“I’ll probably be rejected.”
Yup. It’s going to happen. You will be rejected.
“I’m going to be real sucky on stage. I don’t even know how to play that well.”
You will be sucky. You’re going to fumble around and hit wrong notes. It will happen.
“People won’t like what I wrote.”
Nope. They won’t. In fact, they’re probably just gonna scroll right past whatever you have to say. I mean, you do it too.
Because in reality, nobody really gives a shit. And that’s a good thing. You won’t be letting anyone down if you do “fail.”
I like to tell myself the truth:
Nobody really gives a shit, you’re gonna die, and you will suck.
Because when you train yourself to accept the worst outcome, all you’ll receive is income. In come awareness, knowledge, opportunity, wisdom—and likely a new challenge. A new fear to face, through which you can learn all over again to not take yourself too seriously.
Author: Adam Abramowitz
Editor: Callie Rushton
Copy Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Social Editor: Waylon Lewis