Three Ways Fear Has Ruled My Life, and What I’m Doing to Fix it
My name is Alexander H. Lorenz. I’ve never written a blog post before, even though I’ve had this WordPress account for a couple years now. I’ve always been scared that it wouldn’t be good enough, that people wouldn’t read it, that nobody would care. And maybe they won’t. Maybe I’m writing this to myself right now, but I’ve decided that that’s alright.
I’ve spent my life in fear. I’m afraid that people won’t like me. I’m afraid that I’ll lose my job, my friends, my living situation, all my precious material belongings. In short, I’m afraid of failing. Whether it’s my social life, my work life, or my scholastic life, I’ve always been terrified that I wouldn’t be good enough. Good enough for whom? I don’t know any more. My parents. Teachers. My peers. A girl. Myself. Everyone. The world.
“There is only one way to avoid criticism: do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.”
That quote is most often attributed to Aristotle, but there seems to be some debate as to where it actually originated. No matter where it came from, it speaks to me. I can identify with it, because I’ve never made a big decision in my life. I was so scared of being wrong that I never acted on my own. When it came to life decisions, I would always defer to the safe option. I did the thing everyone else suggested. And you know what? It’s never worked out. When you follow advice instead of your heart, you’re destined to be miserable, and you’re all but guaranteed to fail. Here are three areas of my life where I’ve done the wrong thing because I didn’t want to take any risks.
1. My Scholastic Life
After high school, I went right to college and signed up for a major that interested me: creative writing. One year in, my college adviser asked me what I was going to do with that degree. When I told her that I wanted to be a writer, she asked me a question that made me doubt everything: “What’s your day job going to be?” That day, I changed majors. I went with pre-nursing, and signed up for anatomy and organic chemistry and developmental psychology for the fall.
In the three years after that, I moved a couple states over, took prerequisites for nursing at three different colleges, and applied to a nursing program in the town I’d settled in. It was a very competitive program, and there were a very limited number of spots available. I didn’t get in. I could have beefed up my resume and reapplied the next year, but I didn’t. It just wasn’t something I was truly passionate about. I had chosen it because several of my family members had been successful at it, and because it was a safe choice with good expected job growth. As it turns out, that wasn’t enough to keep me interested and motivated.
2. My Social Life
The same went for my leisure time. In college, I slowly began to give up things I genuinely enjoyed doing in favor of fitting in with everybody else. In high school, I enjoyed taking long walks or drives with my friends in the night. We talked, we laughed, we explored and we adventured. Some of them probably still remember many of those times. In college, nobody I was meeting seemed to want to just hang out. There was always a party to go to, a bottle to drain, a table to throw ping pong balls across. So I took up those activities, because it was easy. It allowed me to fit in, and it didn’t open me up to any judgment from the new people around me.
3. My Work Life
I’ve always wanted a career in an artistic field. I’ve dreamed of being a writer, a poet, a musician, a stand up comedian, and an actor. I would still love to be in any one of those fields, or all of them, but I’ve never seriously given any of them a chance. I’ve always dreamed, but when it came time to pursue my dreams I would find a million excuses not to. I’d tell myself that I wasn’t good enough or that I’d never be able to make a living doing those things, and then I would give up before I ever got started. I was so scared of being bad at something that I chose to do nothing at all.
No matter what situation I was in, I would always take the path of least resistance. I would do the thing that the most people agreed with. I never took chances. It allowed me to avoid taking any responsibility whatsoever for my own life. I did what my elders, my peers, and the statistics said were the right thing to do. I didn’t want to make my own decisions, because that would mean opening myself up to the possibility of making the wrong one. There would have been nobody to blame but myself. It is so much easier to be able to say “my college adviser told me to do this,” or “everyone else was doing it.” I was terrified of ever having to admit, “I chose to do this, and I was wrong.”
“A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.” -John A. Shedd
So here I am. I’m doing something new. I’m doing something I have no experience in, and in all likelihood I’m doing it badly and I can’t really tell because I’ve never done it before. It’s scary, but I’m no longer letting that stop me.
This is one of several big changes I’m making in my life right now, and you’ll hear about more of them if you keep reading my posts. I think these changes will be good for me. And, more importantly, I hope that someone else out there reads something I’ve written and is able to benefit from it in some way. If I can help one person, it will be worth the effort.
To anyone that’s made it this far, thank you so much for reading my first post! If you can relate to anything I’ve said here, or if you have any input, don’t be afraid to comment on this post. You can also follow me on Facebook and Twitter, email me, or sign up for my mailing list by scrolling to the bottom of this page! Hope to hear from you all soon! Goodbye for now.