Just 30 days ago, I took on the personal challenge, from ImpossibleHQ, to take a cold shower every day, and that I would blog every day. There was no way I could have known how cold those showers would be or the challenge of writing every day. Similarly, the powerful feeling I got today after accomplish a seemly impossible challenge, and the confidence that I have gained by facing my fears. I remember that first sleepless night when I was freaking out about taking my first cold shower the next morning. I was so nervous, and I had no clue about writing about myself, feelings and thoughts, with no filter. I wanted to give a real perspective on how I faced my fears without hiding my own insecurities.
Today, I have completed both my challenges, and I would like to share what I have learned over these past 30 days. Hopefully, these tips will help you if you decided to take the challenge.
I challenge you to make your life a masterpiece. I challenge you to join the ranks of those people who live what they teach, who walk their talk. ~ Tony Robbins
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
In weeks leading to my experience, I had been seriously stressed out. Sleeping less, constantly irritated, and just plain grumpy, they would all fully describe my internal mood. Of course, I wore a façade in front my friends because they are not the caring type. They would either laugh or shrug me off, but more likely they would just ignore anything they saw in me.
As it happens every so often college starts to collapse in on itself. Every assignment is due at the exact same time and there is no possible way that it all can be done. Then that idiotic power of procrastination causes you to make the worse mistake possible, putting it off even further. Leaving it to my future self, you know that future you that will have all this magical time for everything. Then top it off with the loss of what some would call my first love. A year and an half relationship severed then to only be followed by three months of almost no human connection (another story). Using some simple addition, no need for subtraction, and we arrive at a self-destructive, stressed the freaking out, mind of an all time high!
I don’t remember much detail about the day because it was probably boring. Just another day at college, but I do remember Math class. I was taking a probability and statistics class which was not super hard. But my mind was jacked up on so much stress that there was not way I could be thinking straight. So, let’s jump right in!
“Hello class, we are going to start our quiz now. Please remove everything from you table” said Mrs. S. Oh man, I did not study for this quiz. I skimmed what I could outside before class but it didn’t make any sense. Ahh, I cannot get a bad grade in this class. Mrs. S continues to passes out the quiz one by one. I could always look at my friend’s paper but he studies less than I do. I guess I could compare but how do I compare if I don’t even know it in the first place? I can’t do this, I am going to fail, so tired, why didn’t I study, why didn’t I, why didn’t I! Slowly, Mrs. S makes her way around to everyone and places the paper in front of me. I stare at my quiz, panic surging through my veins, and I can’t think. I reach for my pen but what my eyes see doesn’t match my hands. Slowly, like a slow motion film, my hands move forward and pick up the pencil. But I’m not thinking in slow motion. No! My mind is running faster than it ever has, thoughts rushing through like an open faucet.
I can’t do this, I suck, I don’t know anything, I hate this guy next to me! I don’t know the answer, I don’t know, I DON”T KNOW WHAT, WHAT IS IT! This person sucks, HELLO, I suck, I am HORRIBLE, I am WORTHLESS…! I hate math, why am I in this class, I suck, I hate myself, I HATE MYSELF! Die, die, DIE! There is no point, what point, you see a point! Can you hear me, hear you, hear us! Die, die, DIE! Voices screaming in my head, combining and building, collide to create a distorted collage of terror and hysteria. So many voices yelling, screaming at me, deafening my thoughts, fear! Just so much fear! I slowly look around as the voices continue to argue and debate with themselves. As I look at the other students, it almost seems like I am hearing all of their thought in my head. I can almost feel all of their fear over this simple quiz. I feel this heavy weight like its crushing down on top of me, like I can’t breathe. I remember this feeling. No words fully describe it, only a suffocating darkness that squeezes your soul to death! I want to scream! I can’t take all these voices yelling anymore. I can’t even hear myself think. I look up at the door wanting to run out but that would result in more embarrassment. My mind is become so loud that I can’t hear with my ears. My vision is slightly blurry, like my pupils can’t seem to figure out what to zoom in on. This is fear. The true essence of fear not shield by the sub-conscious, but exposed for its insanity. I am insane!
I try to focus my mind in the same way I practice in mediation each morning. Like traveling in your head, I found a place to hide. A dark pit to crawl into and shelter myself from the madness. I push away the voices, focusing on my breathing. One, two, one, two, I repeat over and over again. I can still hear them, all of them screaming, but I seem to have found some control, if you could control a lapse into insanity. I move my hand and try to start answering the questions. My mind still at full throttle answers the questions before I can write the answer. Yelling that I am going to slow, just way to slow. It’s like my mind is trying to sprint but my body wants to crawl. I feel this agony of not having enough time to finish but I do. I don’t know how, but I do. I walk up and turn in the paper. I feel like throwing up as my mind calms down. I start to feel normal, almost forgotten how, as I find that the voices have gone away. However, the horror of the situation remains. Am I insane? What just happened to me? There must be something wrong. How will I ever understand this? Who will ever believe me…?
One person’s craziness is another person’s reality. ~ Tim Burton
5. I fear that I may be insane, a rather rational response to my life.
While searching online for the fear of the unknown, I came across a short poem. The first line immediately grabbed my attention by its powerful language. I was struck frozen by the elegant word play so beautifully crafted. However, it was its essence that made me read it over and over, while it played and teased with my thoughts. I knew that only a person who has experience true hardship could have ever written such a powerful piece of work that strikes at the heart of its readers.
I will not die an unlived life.
I will not live in fear of falling or catching fire.
I choose to inhabit my days, to allow my living to open me, to make me less afraid, more accessible; to loosen my heart until it becomes a wing, a torch, a promise.
I choose to risk my significance, to live so that which came to me as seed goes to the next as blossom, and that which came to me as blossom, goes on as fruit.
~ Dawna Markova
Dying is a powerful fear but fading away is what truly scares people. Everyone dies, it is just a time and place, which is why I don’t fear it. It is enviable and therefore unstoppable. To me death is easy; it is what leads up to death that is hard. Life! I fear the resulting accumulated of my life rather than its ending. Some people fear dying alone, being forgotten by history, leaving no family legacy, wishing they had done more, however these all stem from the same root. No one wants to end up with regrets in how they lived their life.
This is the realization that explodes out of the poem. We all live one life, and we have but to choose to live it to its full potential. Through the failures that smack us down to the successes that carry us up, we have a choice to stop living in fear. We are all so powerful and unique yet many remain afraid, thinking of themselves as unworthy, to become successful in life.
For me, the most thought provoking line, “I choose to risk my significance”, makes my mind twist and turn at the unwanted meaning. Amazing, how the poem has me debating myself causing turmoil to my held beliefs. But, I have learn to question everything even thoughts I believed to be true. My fear is that when I die I will be forgotten (4). I want to make an impact, to be remembered. However Dawna, so significantly states, could live without this, being happy as a stepping stone for others and helping them progress along life. This raises a question that should be ask by everyone. What is consider a fulfilled life? Maybe, for me, that of a successful man, a loving husband, a caring father, a heroic citizen, a renown scientist, or a simple man, it is a question for which I do not have an answer yet.
There is one thing for sure, I will not die an unlived life!