Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Fear–Revisited

I've written an earlier post about fear in a religious context, but maybe the religious context is not all there is to it. Fear is such a complicated emotion that consists of layers upon layers of life experiences, some not even our own, and some we never knew had that effect on us.

On the first few days of the revolution, a friend asked me, "are you coming to Tahrir?" my answer was no. When he asked why I told him I was too scared of what might happen to me if things go wrong. He admired that I was so open and honest about being afraid of something and admitting it. I'm not always like that; I don’t admit them, and sometimes I don’t even realize what they are.

One day, I decided to list down all my fears. The most prominent were the fear of losing a loved one, the fear of being alone, and the fear of mediocrity.  I get scared in tunnels too but I doubt my tunnel specific claustrophobia is of much importance in this argument. I guess I have little or no control over the first two since they are rational fears to some extent, and they are common fears as well. I have my reasons to have them on the top of my list of fears, and those reasons vary from one person to another. The fear of mediocrity, however, seems to be the one that doesn’t really belong on that list of most feared. Again, I have my reasons to have it there; I blamed my mother... No that was a joke, not funny, sorry!

I’ve tried to convince myself of the irrationality of this fear. What is mediocre anyway? It's to do things and be a person that is not really bad at something; however their actions and their existence would seem insignificant. My work and products are okay and acceptable but they don’t measure up to any bar I set for them. Above average is mediocre, which isn’t really bad but not quite glorious either. So I'm egotistical and proud, sue me!

The funny thing is I'm not really mediocre. Sure, I've come second more than once in my life, and in things such as studying, I never really cared to come first. Yes, I'm competitive, but only when it counts. I’ve always had the “you’ve got so much potential” speeches, and so I am mediocre only in my own eyes. So mediocre is not really what I am afraid of. Not that I’m praising my own virtues but how can a tall person be afraid of being short?

If it's not mediocrity then what is it? My overly analytical brain has come to the following conclusions. At the top of the list, there is the fear of rejection, doing something that someone somewhere wouldn’t like, or wouldn’t appreciate which would get me frustrated (as usual) and thus I would forever believe the misconception of me being mediocre. This added to the built in instinct (this time I really d blame my mother along with school, stupid teachers, and society as a whole) to always be the best just about sums up the first layer of my deep dark fear of mediocrity. Then comes the fear of going about unnoticed. Imagine Addison discovered electricty but no one knew about it, you'll know what I’m talking about. This is more prone to actually happen than people may think, that's why they invented marketing people! So it isn’t just about doing something great, it's about making sure the right people see that great thing and spread it out. If we assume that the first point can be dismissed using strong will and moving out of one's comfort zone, the second point actually requires work to get over it since it's a problem that not only I but so many people face; how to market for yourself and your work. Finally, this is the tricky part, for me, there is always the panic of "what now?" after finishing something. So the last most complicated and by all means the silliest layer of all the complexities of my fear of mediocrity; what if I succeed? What if I prove to the world that I can achieve everything I want to achieve however I want to achieve it? Isn’t there no way but down when you're on top? Aren’t I hindering myself on purpose sometimes just because I’m afraid of making it to the top? Do I really want to finish the race? I never thought I’d ask myself that question, but I did, and it frightened me how close t home it rang. It frightened me even more how it never consciously occurred to me except after 25 years of my life have passed. Only with the help of a friend have I come up with the solution on how to overcome this last sticky layer of fear, obvious as it may be. If I ever reach the top, I’ll probably have a new adventure waiting for me there, I got to get there first to actually find out what happens next!
I've admired people who seem to go about life with the will and energy of energizer bunnies, The never-say-die people. There are people out there who dream and follow their dreams, who fall down and get back up again, and who keep on going until they either get there or die trying. Thos people remind me of Peter Pan who seems to be so forgetful that he always forgets how treacherous Captain Hook is. Those people forget how life can really take them down even if they are on the top of the world. But isn’t that where the fun is? Peter Pan would have been such a boring story if Peter had figured hook out and stopped fighting him. Isn’t that what children are all about? Fearless and brave, always willing to explore and not letting the world get in the way because the world always holds something new to them. How we’ve forgotten how to learn from children!

As a final note, I would like to tell the critics who will always think my work is not good enough, those idiots who dismiss everything as too easy and anyone could have done it, those people who don’t even know I exist, my teachers who are a part of a stupid society that is too competitive about belching contests, Captain Hook, life, the universe, and everything: Bring It ON!!!!!

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