The fears that drive us. what fears defines your life? Your every day? What fears influences your thoughts and decisions. We fear for our lives, our kids, our parents, our finances, our looks, our bodies, our health, our abilities, our image and so much more.
What are we so afraid of? Why are we driven by fear? And how can we conquer these fears?
Fear of failure. This is a real fear. Whether you are applying for a job or still at school. Fear of failure is real and something that I’ve recently come to believe is being instilled in our beings from a very young age. We are constantly being told, don’t do this, don’t do that. Don’t touch that, don’t eat that, don’t jump off there, don’t drive here. Don’t talk to strangers but kiss a family member? Even one you haven’t seen in a hundred years. It’s been instilled in me and I’ve probably returned the favor by instilling it into my kids.
We nurture these fears on an everyday basis, ask me; I know. I am constantly being hounded by my fears. Fears of not succeeding at what I am doing. Fear of being too fat so I now have a fear of shopping for clothes. Fear of driving at night because our roads aren’t safe anymore. This particular fear saw myself and the kids drive to the airport the other night each at the ready with a pocket knife for should something happen on the road. It now sounds silly and worth giggling over but reality is that unsafe roads a real fear living in South Africa. With all the rising fuel prices, food prices, vat, school fees, medical fees etc. I have a constant fear of not having ‘enough’. But now you ask; What constitutes ‘enough’? What is enough for me or for you might not be enough for the next person, or it might be so much more than someone else has access to, so ‘enough’ is a relative theory.
We fear rejection by our peers, by our friends, from strangers, from our bank manager, from our family, from our neighbors and our gym trainers. We try and fit the mold so hard sometimes we break; not the mold, we break ourselves.
Fear makes us bend over backwards to accommodate others. Fear makes us deny ourselves. It makes us deny our character, our morals, our personality, it makes us deny our beliefs. It often causes us to deny our loved ones because the need to fit in, to conform to society’s view of how we should look, how we should live, what we should drive, where we should live, where we should be seen, what we should wear, the list is long but I could go on. We bankrupt ourselves by trying to comply. I am not just talking about financially bankrupting ourselves but emotionally as well. It is draining to keep up the pretense and especially if it is an image you cannot really afford.
Another real fear for myself is social media. Although I work with it and share on it often I detest it because I every day I see how people are mocked, teased, judged, cursed at, treated with disrespect and more just because they dared shared a piece of themselves craving some place to fit in, some place where someone might like their photo and comment with kindness. More often than not people are ridiculed and insulted causing more fear and unhappiness.
I detest and fear the negative power that social media holds over us at times. The fact that we can stare at a tiny little screen for more than 2/3rds of our day and forget about those around me scares the crap out of me. The fact that negativity can be spread faster than any positive post, comment or picture scares me even more. We’ve become a society that thrives on the negative, we are keyboard warriors that belittle and judge others on the content of their Facebook or Instagram pages. Not knowing the person behind the scenes, not realizing that what you see is NOT a whole person but only a fragment of someone. Someone who is facing their own fears by sharing tidbits of their lives to make it look like they are living the life prescribed by society but in reality someone who leads an ordinary life, someone who is pushed by fear like you and me. Someone who is trying to conform lest he be judged for not having enough, not doing enough, not earning enough, not giving enough.
I feel like what I’ve written here is but the tip of the ice-berg. There are so many more fears that we have to deal with on a day to day basis. Some people have religion, some see a professional, some might focus on an activity to help them cope, someone else might meditate. Some might just give in and get depressed, pop a pill and hopefully don’t do anything worse.
At the end of the day, we have to get up and go on. Get up and face them. And I don’t mean by doing stupid irresponsible things but stop worrying about what labels you are wearing, what car you are driving, what house you are living in. Take a moment to take stock of your life and create a list of what you DO HAVE, your roof over your head, the car, bus, bicycle or even your feet that gets you to work every day, the food you eat, the clothes you wear, the treats you can afford from time to time. Stop fearing what others might or might not think about you or your life. Conquer your own fears and stop looking at what the person next to you are doing, buying, spending, saying or posting on social media. Because a lot of what you see on social media is false, it’s a five minute fragment out of someone’s life not the real life behind the scenes just a splinter of it. A cup of coffee enjoyed at a coffee shop, perhaps a once in a life time purchase that was hard earned. Some might post to brag or show off but some might genuinely be sharing to get your stamp of approval or a thumbs up liking the fragment they are sharing with you. After all, the likes on Facebook and Instagram often makes us feel worthy, it makes us feel noticed, it makes us feel included, a false sense of belonging allaying the fears for a second or two; but a sense after all.