Delimit My Life

"Life is either a daring adventure or nothing" ~ Hellen Keller

Archive for the category “Fears”

Day 28 Growth happens over time

tree-growing-o

Every day, our society is becoming more instantaneous to our every need. People want everything now, not later, and we won’t wait for anything. No one has the time or patience to wait around for results or progress. This is the reason for quick fixes, “x days” for anything. It’s impossible to search online without finding something about losing weight, learning a language, or building muscles in some short amount of time. However, how often do those quick methods ever work? The simple truth is that growth happens slowly, incrementally, which makes it’s hard to comprehend.

Growth can be represented as a tree or a plant. If correctly maintained every day, it will grow, slowly and steadily, but to the naked eye it will seem to stand still. Gradually, you may see new sprouts appear which signifies visible growth. However, for the most part, the growth is unseen until substantial change occurs. Eventually, the tree will get taller and stronger, and you will recognize the growth. Even comment at how well it is progressing, but then the growth will be invisible again. Next, the tree may bear fruit and everyone will notice the different. They will celebrate the wonderful bounty. Though, like most things in life, the fruit will become common and cease to be interesting. Still, the tree will continue to grow and change.

There is no difference from anything we do in our lives. We grow slowly with possible quick strides forward, like the sprouts, but it takes time. Yet, we continue to believe that we can lose weight in a week or a month. It took time and energy to put on the weight and it will take the exact same time and energy to take it off. The problem is that people don’t see the slow weight gain, they only see the substantial change, tree trunk got bigger. This is why we love the before and after photos so much. We gawk and marvel at the difference because it is so significant, but we lose focus on how much time it took. So, we work at it and make small improvements which people commend us for, but the praise soon fades. Then most people get frustrated and quit, falling back into old habits. The solution is to think about progress like a tree. Every day make a small change, fractionally small, and over time they will add up to a significant difference. Progress can only be made through continuous effort.

The issue with fears is that they are not visible. Progress is hard to see because they are internal to everyone. I can’t simply look at a before and after photo of me conquering a fear. No, the mind adapts gradually. and one day you realize, suddenly, that you are not afraid as you once were. The fear that used to haunt you is gone. So, why is there no quick fix for conquering a fear in “x” days online? People have written tons about facing fears and they break the problem down, exploring possible solutions. In the end, there is simply no proof of the fear. If I show you a photo of me skydiving and I say “I was scared of heights” then it’s on faith that you believe me. For this, I see writing as the solution.

Most people write after they have conquered a fear. It makes sense because people want the answers, instant gratification. However, I think they are missing a large part of the story. Like watching a slow motion film of a blooming flower, I see writing as a snapshot that can be assembled into a complete story. One that gives the audience that initial fear and the slow progress that the writer makes towards conquering the fear, but this is just my philosophy on Delimit My Life. I want to give a complete story of what it takes to conquer a fear!

Strength and growth come only through continuous effort and struggle. ~ Napoleon Hill

Day 27 I’m being replaced…

A benefit from writing and constantly thinking about my own fears is that I become more cognitive of them throughout the day. So when my advisor told me that I need to start looking for someone to take over my job, I kind of smiled, agreed, and freaked the hell out inside. I get that I am moving on and that someone is going to have to take my place. I just didn’t want to help pick the person to replace me.

The fear struck unexpected though so I didn’t have much time to think about it. I just had to agree with my advisor and discuss where we might look for potential students. However, the whole time, I just had this feeling of insecurity running through me. Since then I’ve been trying to analyze the irrational fear and find the root.

The way I see it, I have two major irrational fears. First, the selfish fear, I simply don’t want someone to take over my job because I have worked hard at it. I was the first for my school to work for the company, a test run, and I was successful in contributing to their projects. So, I don’t want to be out shined by another person. Basically, I fear that the person will be better than me, like I said, these are pretty selfish. Second, the unknown fear, I don’t know who the person will be, what their skills are, and if they will be capable? I have invested lots of time and effort into building a relationship between my school and the company, and I don’t want to see that be wasted or tarnished.

Time to kick my butt for those idiotic fears, most were just egotistical, which I have no need for anyways. If I doubt my level of work then I should have worked harder. No excuse, it’s my fault if someone is better than me. However, I did have some concerns that I believe are valid. I don’t know who will replace me, but I want that someone to be awesome. The problem is that I don’t know what I am looking for in someone. What qualities would I deem necessary or required in someone? How do I know if someone is the right fit? These are just some questions that I have to ask myself.

Although, it’s amazing that I get the change to ask myself these questions. I realized that it is an honor to get to choose the person to take my place. It means that my advisor trusts my judgment and thinks of me as a peer rather than a student. I should not fear change for it is inevitable. Rather, I should embrace the fact that I am moving forward and that I can offer the opportunity for growth to someone else.

Help others achieve their dreams and you will achieve yours. ~ Les Brown

Day 26 Talk to a stranger each day

Well, I finally found a challenge that will expand my comfort zone and it sounds uncomfortable, even impossible. Just thinking about talking to a new person everyday makes my head spin. I have no clue on how to start a conversation with someone new and not embarrass myself? What if I just freeze up on the spot, petrified? It most likely won’t turn out that bad, fears always bring up the worst thoughts, but the thoughts do race through my head.

I always seem to be over analyzing situations and psyching myself. It’s the same issue I have with asking a girl out on a date. I just think about all of the horrible, although unlikely, circumstances in which something goes terribly wrong. Then I think about the repercussions and embarrassment. Irrational as it may seem, I just figure that it’s not even worth trying, so I walk away. I absolutely hate that I do this! Hopefully, this challenge will force me to conquer my fear of rejection.

The challenge however is a little vague in the details department. Does it count if I talk to waiters, grocery store clerks, and even say hello to the random person hiking the same trail?  In my mind, I don’t consider that talking to a stranger. They just seem like an exchange of pleasantries rather than actual communication. For my purpose, talking involves some topic that flows back and forth continuously between two or more people. I know a rather formal definition but I’m a scientist at heart. So if I am going to do this challenge I need to live up to my own definition.

Therefore, I have created some formal rules for this challenge. Obviously, I have to actually communicate with the stranger, more than just a greeting, so I have to get their name and learn something new about them. The conversation should be longer than a few minutes otherwise it borderlines small talk. The bonus challenge is finding something in common with the stranger. This could include hobbies, songs, food, and any other areas. Ultimately, the goal is to have a full conversation with someone new.

Some questions I am still grappling with. If I get rejected by someone should that count, or do I have to find a new stranger? I think I have to say yes, because rejection is a part of meeting new people. Next, should I be allowed to use the challenge as an opening line for talking to strangers? It might become a handicap or a cheat if I use it. However, it could take away some of the awkwardness as it gives the stranger a reason to talk with me.

If you have any suggestions on the rules or some good old advice on talking to strangers, I would love to hear them.

Fear makes strangers of people who would be friends. ~ Shirley MacLaine

Day 25 Looking forward

Summer RoomIt doesn’t seem real when I look back at how much has changed over the last 25 days. Just awhile ago, I was in another state at the end of my summer research project and living in a cozy little closet (picture above).Of course, I thought of it as a challenge with that insane humidity that I just don’t get in California. It was there on my bed where I decided to man up, take the cold shower challenge, and face my fear of public writing by creating Delimit Life.

Since then I have taken cold showers everyday and have actual fallen in love with the refreshing feeling every morning. I don’t actually remember what those good old hot showers felt like anymore and I don’t think I will be going back at the end of this challenge. Normally taking hours, I have blogged every day to face my fear and to keep myself going. I moved back to college, into a new home, and started my senior year. The stresses only increasing, I am thankful for the invigorating cold showers and being able to expressing myself through this blog. There is nothing in this world like testing your own boundaries and finding that true inner strength within. Life continues to be a journey of self discovery, only limited by my mind.

Now looking forward, I have been thinking about future challenges since I only have five days left.  I have been writing for awhile now about my own fears and insecurities as a way of thinking about some new challenges. However, I have been having difficulties in finding challenges that sound impossible. I seriously thought that it would be easier to find new challenges. There seems to be so many resources online but only a few focus on fears. There are challenges for fitness, health, writing, etc. but I want to conquer my fears. My guess is that those challenges are just hard to do or think of. How do you face your fear of public speaking other than just getting on a stage and giving a speech or presentation? Most of the challenges online just seem like ways of motivating a person out of bad health habits.

For me, I am already forced to eat healthy based on my allergies which almost make me vegan (I can eat most meats). I haven’t had soda in over twelve years and I mostly drink water or tea. I eat whole food for the most part and don’t eat junk food very often. I also enjoy being athletic as I bike at least four miles a day, go to the gym at least three times a week, and go hiking six miles on the weekend. So I needed something more interesting, which I found.

The Challenge:  You must do at least one of the following each day (not all three) for 30 days:

  • Something you fear
  • Something you’ve been putting off
  • Something you’ve never done before

There is also a list of potential challenges many of which sound very challenging!

Day 24 Being Bullied!

Being bullied is terrible and it makes school more difficult then it needs to be. I try not to think of myself as a victim of bullying, however, denial doesn’t change the facts and there were many days that I was scared of going to school. It became the place I feared the most. Now, I wasn’t that typical nerd or weakling in the movies that gets pushed around. I held myself up and walked with pride, and I always stood up for myself. If someone was going to pick a fight then I would defend myself. Sadly, this is what most likely led to me to getting bullied because they knew that I would retaliate. They found an outlet for their aggression and pain.

The bullying started in fourth grade for varies reasons. Not related to it but I moved to a new school the next year. However, my bullies had friends who also went to my new school so it continued. To explain, I lived in a predominantly Hispanic neighborhood and I was white. If you think that racism doesn’t exist anymore then you would be wrong. Children love to play out there parents’ hatred onto others and that is exactly what they did. I was the “cracker”, “wonder bread”, “bird shit”, and really anything they could think of as white. Verbal abuse was constant but I learned quickly how to play their game. It soon became our own little race war, me verses them. The odds were stacked against me and we preferred to handle our battles with fist. Fights normally happened during breaks, lunch, and off campus. Normally, I would end up in pain. There are many experiences that I will never be able to forget, burned into my memory. However, I would like to share my growth between two particular experiences.

During fifth grade, I was outside playing basketball when, out of the corner of my eye, I saw the biggest kid I ever seen walking over to me. This guy looked like he had hit puberty at age five and was already standing six feet tall. Then from nowhere, I was surrounded by five other kids. One of them, their leader, started talking trash to me. I of course turned around to reply in kind. I had to stay strong in front of them, show no fear, because they wanted that. They wanted to break me down but I wouldn’t let them. From behind me the big kid grabbed and twisted my arms behind my back. Fear shot through me and I started to panic. The leader was quickly in front of me and started wailing on my stomach. One after another the punches kept coming. I struggled and yelled trying to get free, to escape my captor. Tears rolling down my face from pain, but I kept struggling. Finally free, either by force or release, I started striking at the leader then at the big guy who had held me. I was ferocious and angry, and they knew it. It was exactly what they wanted to see, me loss all of my self-control. They won.

During middle school, I made the acquainted of a high school student from my neighborhood. He made it his personal mission to beat the shit out of me. I remember very clearly the day when he got his chance. I was so happy and the sky seemed so beautiful. I was biking to school, with my brother on the back pegs, having a blast. Then a car pulled up alongside us and I saw the guy. He jumped out of the car and walked over to me, spouting off. He was ready for a fight, to show me that he was a man. He kept yelling at me to get off the bike and fight, but I stood my ground saying no. He walked up and punched me in the face, knocking it to the side. He continued to curse at me but I wasn’t paying attention anymore.

I was looking at who was in the car now. An older guy seated on the driver’s side smiled and laughed at me. Like there was nothing wrong with this picture. Then I was punched again and he continued to say racist comments, trying to goat me into the fight. However, I was still focused on the car. I could see through the back window a young girl who could only have been in first grade, her eyes staring into mine, not judging me, but confused and fearful at the situation. I could not stop thinking about this innocent girl. How could this guy be so callous in front of his sister? How could he show her such violence and hatred?

Tears rolled down my face, this time not only from the pain, but an internal pain. It crushed me inside that the innocent have to see such hatred in this world and end up becoming jaded, like the laughing and smiling driver.  A bystander to the pain of others. There I was standing in front of my own brother with a choice. I could continue the chain of hatred or show him that violence isn’t the answer. That it is braver to stand and take a punch then it is to lift a fist. The guy eventually left not getting the fight that he wanted and I was never bothered by him again.

It is our choices … that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities. ~ J.K Rowling

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