I am willing to pay whatever the price may be, for being unabashedly me.
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So… What’s Your Biggest Fear?
I was with a friend the other day, and as I was about to leave she asked me a simple question.
She looked me straight in the face, and asked me what I was afraid of.
She caught me a little off guard with that question, and I said to myself, “This bitch is trying to be my mamma.”
I couldn’t tell if I was bothered because of the nature of the question, or because I felt like maybe she could already see the answer.
I puffed my chest out like a proper macho-man and said, “I am not scared of anything!”
But then, I started to think
My heart sunk into my stomach as I came to the realization that I did have a fear. A huge fear.
One that I have trained myself to ignore, but a fear none the less.
But let’s back up for a second, I have a confession to make.
I am a total failure
I actually admit that proudly, and like to get it out of the way early.
I don’t usually lead with it, but hey, this is a blog, and not an HBO special, so I don’t have much time for character development.
I have failed repeatedly in my personal life, my professional career, and definitely in my political perspectives.
Quite frankly, I’m sure I will continue to make mistakes. Lots of them. I’ll continue to stumble, because this is the life I have chosen to live.
I will never apologize for being who I am or how I am, but this does not answer the question at hand.
I’m really good at faking it you see
I can twist you and bend you however I want.
The power of coercion is strong in this one. It has been since I was young.
Maybe that’s why I found the world of sales so comfortable. I felt right at home in a world where all that mattered was whether or not I made the sale.
It was easy for me
Living in a lie seemed normal. It seemed like everyone was doing it.
I’d do whatever needed to be done in order to get what I wanted. The problem was, I had no idea what I wanted.
Maybe that’s what led me to build a house of cards on top of all of those lies.
Maybe it’s that line of thinking that led me to believe that I could be happy in the life I was building, or maybe that is why I sat there that day with a gun in one hand and a phone in the other, wondering whether to pull the trigger or call for help.
Maybe that is why I am writing this article today. Maybe I was unwilling to admit it back then.
Maybe I was unwilling to admit that I was wrong, so I pushed forward. I pushed with no regard for the price that would one day have to be paid.
But that was then, and this is now.
That price has been paid.
In fact, I am still paying. It cost me 10 years, a wife, some strife, and almost my life.
It has pushed me to accept and reject many things about myself and the world around me.
It has forced me on this path that I am on, but this, again, does not answer the question at hand.
You want to know what I am afraid of now?
You want to know what I’m scared of today?
I fear that one day I will become successful, and the world will look at me as if I were a total joke.
I fear that one day I will stand at the top of this mountain I am climbing, and people will say that I lied, cheated, and stole to get here.
I fear that they will say that I hurt others in order to help myself.
I fear that the whole world will get to look at the person that I really am, and then decide to destroy me because they can no longer control me.
You see, I have faced all of my fears
I can honestly look you straight in the face and tell you that the only thing I fear anymore is finding out that I actually am a fraud.
That I am incapable of doing what I set out to do.
I am scared that at some point, I will have to turn back and admit defeat.
I am afraid to find out that the guy who “faked-it-til-he-made-it,” actually made it, and he won’t know that it is okay to stop pretending.
I am afraid that I won’t recognize success, and that I will keep on thirsting for more.
I am afraid that I will never find true happiness because of my inability to truly let people in.
I am afraid that I will be unable to realize that once you fake something for so long, it’s no longer fake, it’s just you.
I am afraid that one day it will all come crashing down again, but that this time I won’t be strong enough to handle it.
But even that doesn’t really scare me
Up until now, I’ve done this all before. I have been on this road, and I know where it leads.
I might not be able to see around the bend, but I have memorized the map.
I adjusted my approach in order to come around the corner just right: at just the right speed so as not to fly off the edge of the cliff.
I will make the turn, hammer the gas, and never look back.
This time is going to be different.
This time, I am becoming successful by being myself, and that is what scares me.
I am scared to be walking around this world naked – emotionally, and otherwise, completely unprotected, yet somehow entirely prepared to take the arrows and to face the consequences.
I am willing to pay whatever the price might be, for being unabashedly me.
There will be no shield, no barrier, no buffer between me and the real world.
No one to blame for my failures but myself…and that, my friends, is absolutely terrifying.
What is your biggest fear? Let’s talk about it in the comments below.
Is your biggest fear still the same?
Yes, it is still the same fear. I am pretty sure this article will never not be relevant to me and my path.
You know what, Stella? I can absolutely say the same. Powerful piece. Still love the voice.
Complicated subject. Not sure what you mean when you say the “world” might find out I’m a fraud. Which world? I assume you mean the people in your life. We have many “worlds” and with each a different level of fear of being found out. The smallest world would be me, myself. I would really hate to find out that I, myself was a fraud. How do I know? because through the normal metamorphosis of growing from child to adult, I have experienced many levels of self deception, denial, self discovery, and change/growth. Hehe, it’s similar to Kubler-Ross’ stages of grief…finding out I’m a fraud, lying to myself, getting through it, and coming out the other side. And part of my personal life is that inevitably, when i reach the top of a mountain, there is little time to celebrate because I realize that the top of one mountain it the foot of the next one.
Then the next “world” might be my wife, family, children, and other people I respect and want to be respected by. Colleages, co-workers. I mean, there are a lot of worlds to be exposed as a fraud to. One world might view me as a fraud, while other worlds might not. Social circles grow ever wider. It is difficult to have ALL MY WORLDS simultaneously learn I’m a fraud. Look at Bill Cosby. It took 30 years for him to be exposed as a fraud and he still has plenty of “worlds” to live in that will stand by him. And there are literally 4 billion people who have never heard of Cosby…..to them, he is not exposed. Look at Donald Trump…billionaire…envied by some…and many see him as a buffoon.
Courage is a process. As we all know, courage is not the absence of fear, it is moving forward despite fear. It’s been a circular process for me. Sometimes forward, sometimes sideways, and sometimes backward.
I’m in my mid 50s, so there is a biological practicality to what i choose to challenge and what I shelve. I’m closer to the end of the life experience than the beginning. I have learned that one HUGE tool to fight fear and worry is “truth”…hehe, it will set you free. Truth itself is complicated by perception, but that’s a whole other essay. It is said the youth is wasted on the young. When I was younger, I had no idea what that meant. Now that I’m middle aged it is as clear as glass. I had so many hang ups, fears, worries, apprehensions. 99% ended up being my imagination. The thing I’m most grateful in life for is that I moved through all those wasted, complicated, intellectual, committee meetings in my head with enough time left to enjoy the freedom of most of those fears, (except when they occasionally make that orbit into my atmosphere)… So there are fears that hang out and linger but I pay little attention to. I simply ignore them and enjoy my day. Some would say that makes me courageous.
The only debilitating fear that can even come to the edge of my reality is as follows. I have a philosophy of how I need to live my life. It reveals itself, in my morals, my ethics, my beliefs, my values, my priorities etc. Life is physical too, so i must transform my values into actions/behavior. Thus, hours, days,and years do go by and I have a literal history of myself. The only fear I have comes when i question, or doubt that the path I have chosen, is the correct path. I admit i’m a strange guy and many people live differently than I do. Only when I compare myself to other people do I ever challenge my lifes path. Can’t help it…the world does have an influence on me. The great news is that I have developed the ability to calm the committee in my head, and center myself. Its a process. And as long as I remain open minded, willing to learn, willing to adapt, and willing to trust the process…I really don’t care if the world finds out I’m a fraud.
damn man <3
My fear is the same. Not even going there though.
Your article about 7 reasons why you won’t be successful struck a few chords. In ideality, almost everything you say is great, the fact that you’re unique, naturally tend towards creating and always questioning authority, to invest in yourself, to ask questions, to admit not knowing, and the one that I liked most which I struggle to do is make the world fit around me, and not fit around it. You may agree that the layman does quantify their own self worth based on superficial traits, notably appearance. What people reading this website should know and realize, if you hope to help anyone, is that they need to focus their thoughts towards the world, and not on themselves. To detach from this sense of “I.” Personally, I’ve experienced success treating myself like I would treat someone else whom I care about and wish success for. To this day, I still make excuses when something requires too much effort, sacrifice, truth, or just feels uncomfortable and scary. This is a result of many negative assumptions about myself and others, a failure to accept that I don’t know. When I treat myself like someone else, in the 3rd person, these assumptions seem to dissolve. This is also due to the fact that I have the ability to care for someone else’s will as if it’s my own. The “team” attitude where I conform to the organization’s goals, be they good or bad. It definitely seems as if though you have a prominent ego, and sense of superiority, though perhaps that is what is necessary, given the lack leaders who are willing to take risks and question the status quo. Wish you the best of luck in making “change,” though that can be good or bad. My only point is that focus is the single greatest lacking trait in me, and many others around me. I’d be happy to read your thoughts on goals and focus and how to train your brain to take in all stimuli while selectively filtering for whatever gets you closer to your goal.
I actually have a book you can read called Sales li(f)e which speaks i=exactly to what you are talking about.
I am in touch with my ego but with the ultimate ego. The selfless ego. The ego that must speak out, because as you said many others will not. I have to be hard in order to take the arrows and I must be bold in presenting my ideas.
I have worked hard to get to where I am and to have the opportunity to do what I am doing. Mine is not arrogance but it is confidence. I know the journey I have traveled and the challenges I have faced.
I also know that we all have our own crosses to bear.
I appreciate your perspective and I always appreciate constructive feedback.
My goal is to start conversations and provoke thought in the minds of others. This is not something that can be done by walking down the middle of the road. This website is my voice. Thanks for listening and sharing.
One of my fears was to see you not realize how amazing you are. See you give up at things you were so good at, time after time, not knowing why. Now I know you were just afraid. You can’t imagine how glad I was when you chose to make the call. Can’t even think if you would have chosen the other, just because you were afraid. I’M NOT AFRAID ANY MORE, I know you have realized you are the same amazing human being I always knew you were. ;-)
I quit a lot of things because I was not the best at any of them. Because I knew I was put on this earth to be the best at something. I almost gave up on life because I convinced myself that I was not the best at life and so I should no longer live it.
How wrong I was.
You gave me strength. You showed me the way. You saved my life!
And what I didn’t know before was that I was the best at something. At being myself. Someone that you made unique all the way down to a name that no one else on earth has ever heard of.
They say there are no such things as original thoughts in this world but whatever inspired you and dad to pick that name, was from another realm because there was no way to write this script.
You gave, (give) me the strength to keep on keeping on and for that I am eternally grateful!
P.s. For those of you who don’t know (Lourdes Castillo) thats my mamma!
Everybody in the room who now needs a tissue raise their hands!
I guess that makes me eternally grateful to both of you. No, I know it does.
Again, a pleasure to meet the woman behind the voice!
And, well, it has always been a pleasure to know the man; more everyday, as a matter of fact.
“The truth is you already know what it’s like. You already know the difference between the size and speed of everything that flashes through you and the tiny inadequate bit of it all you can ever let anyone know. As though inside you is this enormous room full of what seems like everything in the whole universe at one time or another and yet the only parts that get out have to somehow squeeze out through one of those tiny keyholes you see under the knob in older doors. As if we are all trying to see each other through these tiny keyholes.
But it does have a knob, the door can open. But not in the way you think…The truth is you’ve already heard this. That this is what it’s like. That it’s what makes room for the universes inside you, all the endless inbent fractals of connection and symphonies of different voices, the infinities you can never show another soul. And you think it makes you a fraud, the tiny fraction anyone else ever sees? Of course you’re a fraud, of course what people see is never you. And of course you know this, and of course you try to manage what part they see if you know it’s only a part. Who wouldn’t?” – David Foster Wallace, Oblivion.
I just want to say, Raymmar, that I cannot even tell you to what extent I have used this, listened to it, suggested it, shared it, talked about it, etc. I’m not even trying to flatter you. It is quite a powerful piece. So, as I was looking it up again this morning, I thought I would tell you, yet again, just how great you are. You make me smile, because while I know you have a much bigger plan in the making, and while I see that your site gets people here, sparks conversation, and promotes… What makes me smile… Is that I’m not quite sure that you realize (just yet) that you also change lives. And not just in a viral sense, or sparking actual thought within people, but truly changing people’s lives on a much deeper and personal level. I shared this post with a group of 1800+ people that struggle daily. You would have been humbled by some of their feedback. You’re already beginning to change the world. Don’t stop.
Right now my fear is definitely failure. And even failure to start something. And fear that I am picking the wrong creative activity to pursue.
The fear if failure is good but should not stop you from trying. Learn to embrace that fear and try more things actually. How else would you ever find the right creative activity to pursue.
Other than that, find something that makes you happy and run with it.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
My biggest fear is that I was not a success in life. Not necessarily as a some big-time famous person, but as someone who provided well for his family and was able to be satisfied with my life. There have been parts so far in my life (I am about to be 40) that have been good or great; but, there are also many spots where I wish I had some sort of superpower that would allow me to stop time, travel back and forth as necessary, and change things, just to see how they would have turned out in my life… kinda like being able to do “what if” scenarios.
I know I am where I am at now because of the things that have happened in my life and it is okay. I just hope that in the end when people remember me, it is with a sense of respect… “Patrick Whitney was a good man and he did well for his family and himself.”
Patrick, thanks for sharing your thoughts and fear. I agree with a lot of what you said and I feel like those are all pretty natural fears. So many people want to gauge success based on dollars in the bank and by that measure I am once again a failure but from a fulfillment standpoint and from a standpoint of being able to look back and be happy with the way I lived my life.. in that sense I am and hope to continue to be wildly successful. I can’t help but think that the rest of it will follow eventually. As long as I stay true to my passion that is.
I agree. Staying true to yourself and that which drives you is never a bad thing; however, the way you go about it can make things either good or bad in your life. Do you need people and the support they can provide? Maybe not in all things, but in some things… yes. But if you discount them all and say, “I don’t need anyone but myself.”, then you run the risk of being lonely and bitter during your life.
Will it matter in the end? Who knows. But why not be happy and good while the ride we call Life is going?
I agree. Mine was not a message to live life in solitude. I was actually exposing my weakness in an effort to better understand it.
I know how important strong relationships are and I know that I have a hard time making them. The inner cynic is strong inside of me as well but there is a soft core at some point. Just not many people get to see it.