How Much Fear Really Define Us
Let’s talk about fears, because it is a difficult thing to share.
You don’t realise it, but fear lives inside you all the time. It is a shadow, dark and omnipresent, and only coming to attention when you’re looking down. You feel your heart race and mind go into an overdrive when things go wrong. How much do you let this fear control you?
We asked several of our (anonymous) Heartware friends to share their vulnerabilities and fears…
Newly engaged adult, 27 years old
What are some things that you are scared of?
I’m scared of losing a loved one.
The more you love someone, the more you become attached to them. The more you get attached, the more you will feel sad when the person is gone. It’s the fear of being sad.
How do you try to cope with it? And do you think of it often?
I do think of it a lot. Say, maybe it’s my spouse… there’ll be times when we part from each other, I fear that it’s the last time I’ll see him. I would always tell him to stay safe. Just saying it wouldn’t make it any safer, but I guess I try to live everyday like it’s my last. It’s cliché, but really true because you can lose someone so suddenly.
How much does this fear govern your life? Does it affect the things that you do?
It’s out of my control. It’s not something I can prevent, so I don’t put in a lot of effort to change my life, or lead my life in a way that can prevent an accident.
You just have to be comforted with what you have. So now I quarrel less with my fiancé. Every time you quarrel, every time you have those negative feelings… what if that’s the last moment? Then you’ll regret it the rest of your life.
Undergraduate, 19 years old
Can you share some things that you are scared of in life?
I’ve never thought of myself as a fearful person, but I guess I’m scared of not being successful in life. My definition of success is actually to be happy.
I’m scared that the things that I do may result in values that I don’t really care for, and ultimately I won’t be happy. I hope I don’t become that.
What are the values that you feel relates to unhappiness?
Not placing enough effort on my relationships, but rather on work. Working overtime but earning a lot of money… those things won’t give me happiness. Maybe they will give me material goods, but contradict my values like honesty and helping others.
Have you ever been in a situation where you are close to the kind of unhappiness?
I’ve worked briefly at a dental clinic. Even though the pay was okay, the hours were really long. I didn’t have time to spend with my family and friends, and it was getting too much. I’d rather work in a lower paying job, and still have relationships and do the things I like.
How did you feel in that kind of situation?
I felt conflicted because even though the people there were good, the relationships weren’t meaningful. The company doesn’t value interpersonal relationships. They wanted us to keep as little personal contact outside office hours.
Many of the people who worked there really sacrificed a lot of their everyday life to do what they do. I can see they have different goals, and they have to stay in the company. I understand that, but it’s not what I’m going for. I’m really worried that if I spend too much time away from my family and friends, it’ll worsen the relationships that I value most.
Working adult, 28 years old
Do you fear some things at work? Will it change your actions?
In work, I fear mistakes. In my previous job, I was a mistake queen. Because it was something new, and I had to cope with part-time studying, I made so many mistakes all the time. So whenever I do something, I double and triple check to make sure that nothing is out of place. But if errors still happen, I learnt that I can’t be too fixated. Because if I was, I would be prone to more mistakes.
How does that happen?
For example, if I want to send an email, maybe I’d forgotten to change the dates or sign off. Then the more I looked at something, somehow the more I would overlook other things. It’s the kind of fear that affects your self-esteem and confidence. Whenever I went to work, I felt a paralyzing fear.
And because of the mistakes I made, my previous colleagues saw me as a problem child. Even through my 4 years there when I wasn’t making mistake, they still thought that I was just not good enough.
In the end, I became who they think I was.
What were your coping mechanisms?
I was at the brink of depression. So I talked to my boyfriend and family. I had good social support. I guess the things that I went through in the past even before the work itself already trained me to be as resilient as a cockroach! I think all these experience are necessarily for me to grow and evolve.
So to everyone who may be fearful and going through a tough time…
I strongly believe that you don’t go through something you cannot handle. I don’t know why bad things happen, but they do. So just man up and go for it.
BE A COCKROACH! BE A DURIAN!