Fear is one of the universal emotions humans share. We have all felt it grip our chest when we face something scary. That feeling has the strongest ability to stop us from doing things, including building our life into what we want it to be.
We stop because fear sets off alarm bells in our head. These alarm bells indicate that something is wrong and that we should probably run away. The alarm bells are good if you are about to be put into danger like the middle of a fist fight or see a snake in your path.
In this day and age, we rarely ever run into danger. We usually run into fear when placed into a situation that is out of our comfort zone. We automatically equate this fear as something bad. Then we think that because we feel this fear and anxiety that we are not ready or that it is something we shouldn’t do. When this fear is just our body telling us that something unknown is on the other side.
Fear TRILOGY INtroduction
This post is the first of a three part series on fear. This post focuses on the fear of failure and how it stops us from even trying to do something. The second part will touch on another type of fear. The third and final part will discuss how you can stop these fears from limiting you.
Both part one and two will detail the stories of two people who have allowed fear to guide their lives. Part one is about a friend of mine who lets the fear of failure stop him from pursuing his dream. Disappointment is not fun for anyone but how do you know that you will fail if you don’t even try?
*names in this story have been changed for anonymity
My friend Edger dreams of being a cinematographer. He wants to shoot, film, and edit movies and videos to perfection. He always talked about going to Hollywood and making it big, maybe even so big that he would one day hold an Oscar. I know some of you may scoff at his dream because the likelihood is one in a million but he is amazingly talented. Some of his work, including short 2 minute clips, are worthy of his Hollywood dream.
Edgar started out by gaining a foothold in the small niche world of anime cosplay. He films cosplayers or people who dress up as their favorite characters at large conventions (think ComicCon). He quickly gained more than 10,000 followers on Youtube and even more fans on Facebook in less than a year.
Not only is Edgar talented at what he does but he is passionate. Whenever you would talk to Edger about filming and editing, you knew he loved it. He could go on about how perfectly a shot would merge into another, which millisecond to cut a clip, or how lighting was ideal on cloudy days.
Edgar has countless amazing ideas to shoot videos across the world. He even had the idea of creating a kick starter page and utilizing his fan base to fund raise. He wanted to use the money to make an epic video from conventions around the world.
After visiting California for a convention, Edger also fell in love with area and the amount of creatives that understood his interests. Something that we were not used to seeing in our hometown on the other side of the country. He then dreamed of one day moving to California and hitting it big in Hollywood.
These dreams turned into serious talks about moving to California with our friend Kayle, so that they could each pursue their dreams. This passion coupled with his talent, was what I thought was the perfect recipe for his future success. I knew that if he continued down this track, I would see him holding an Oscar thanking me from the podium.
But, this was 3 years ago.
What is Edgar up to now?
Same thing, different day. I wish I could say that he was in Hollywood making a name for himself but I can’t. I wish I would say that he had started his kick starter page and is off traveling the world, but I can’t.
Edger is doing the same thing he has been for the last three years. He is still going to the same conventions within a few hours of home and making short clips or music videos of cosplayers.
Not to say that there is anything wrong with doing that but this grand dream and aspiration he had has now turned into a hobby. There has been no growth or movement towards his career as a cinematographer. Sure, he may be learning more about filming and editing and honing his craft but he’s still stuck. Still at home in his comfort zone.
When it finally came time to make the epic move to California with our friend Kayle, he refused to go. When I talked to Edger, he complained that Kayle was pressuring him too much. He said that he wasn’t ready to move.
What stopped edger from moving on?
The fear of failure. Edgar is so afraid of his own failure that he doesn’t even try to pursue his big dreams. He had so many ‘what if?’ questions plaguing his mind that he petrified himself into being stagnant. He was afraid to make a big move across the country because what if it doesn’t work out? What if he doesn’t make it or become successful? What If he no one likes his work? Or what if he never got his big break?
One time when we were talking, he said that he didn’t want to create the Kick-Starter page for his idea because he was afraid that no one would donate. He was also afraid that if people did donate, the video he made wouldn’t be good enough or that he would let his fans down. He let his fears guide scare him so badly that he never created one.
The irony of Edgar’s entire situation is that he repeatedly stated to Kayle and myself that his worst nightmare would be to be stuck in our hometown. Yet there he is, still stagnant and stuck. Stuck in what he himself called his worst nightmare.
Edger is so afraid to move out of his comfort zone and risk failure that he shuts out any pressure or advice that will help him towards his cinematography dreams. He refuses to listen to any words or even have a conversation about leaving the life that he is living now, because he is so afraid.
How do I know this? We don’t talk anymore. Correction, he doesn’t talk to me anymore. Because Kayle and I (and all of our best friends from high school) represent the pressure for him to get out of his comfort zone, he has cut us off from his life. The last time I texted him I said “are you flat out going to ignore me?” and I received no response. I am taking that as a flat out “yes.”
HOW DID HE GET TO THIS POINT
Edgar has lived in our home town, a Washington D.C. suburb, since elementary school. He has never lived anywhere else or even moved out of his parents house. Edgar didn’t go away to a four year college and went a local community college to study nursing. He has lived the same way and in the exact same bubble his entire life and has never taken any steps out of that bubble.
Edgar is stuck so far inside of his comfort zone that he refuses to come out. He has never experienced the thrill of living outside of it. If you live in your comfort zone for that long your comfort zone becomes more and more concrete. Then the fear of failure starts to build because you never learn how to pick yourself back up after a failure. You never learn that failure is totally okay and a part of life.
Living this way has built him a life of just being afraid to fail. His life has been planned out so far that it’s scary to not know where it could go. When you mix this fear with a dream as big as his, it’s easier to just stick to what you know.
Moral of the Story
Do not let the fear of failure, stop you from even trying to achieve your goals or dreams. How will know that you will fail, unless you have given it a shot? I know that it is easier to just leave your dream as a dream, so that you will never be disappointed. But eventually, when your dream never becomes a reality, you will be disappointed anyway. Don’t be like Edgar, get out there and try. Failures are just a mistake or bumps in the road. You can always try again.
I want to make it clear that there is nothing wrong with your comfort zone. You are allowed to stay in it. The problem comes in when you never come out of it. Like Edgar, you will never take risks or chances on the things that you really want.
He never had to step out of it so he never learned how to and how amazing it is when you do step out of it. Make sure you regularly get out of your comfort zone. Test the limits of what you think you are able to do or accomplish. I can guarantee you will be pleasantly surprised (more on this in Part 3).
Lastly, remember that you will never be ready. There is no such thing as being ready. There is no perfect time to start. You just have to do it. The fear of uncertainty will always trick you into thinking that you are not ready. You can beat this voice down by just trying.
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