My biggest fear is something that keeps me up many a night. I have a fear of heights, of drowning and of several other tangible things. However, I believe that when confronted with those, I will probably be able to deal with them in some form or another (don’t ask me how you deal with a fear of heights, but I will). This one that I consider to be my biggest is like a disease, something I haven’t figured out how to deal with. The worst part is that I am not sure there even exists a solution to it.
For me, the fear of nonperformance, the fear of failure, the fear of not living up to expectations (my own, more than anyone else’s) is what I consider to be my biggest in life. I can attribute a lot of my personality traits and obsessive behaviors to this fear. It may be a convenient excuse, but without any other valid or obvious reasons, I would like to apportion a significant part of the blame to this fear!
I think as the years have gone on and as I have moved from one job to another, from one country to another, the pressure has only mounted and the fear of not stepping up has only increased. I mean, you spend thousands of dollars on an education and then several more thousand on another… All you expect is for that to pay off, for your skill set to broaden, for your knowledge base to widen and for you to only rise and grow in life. How can you not know the answer to something? How can you not be able to step up to a challenge or a question posed by someone? How can you not perform a certain job that you should have received the training for?
And the funny part is that I never realized this until very recently… until it was pointed out to me by a friend. I was grumbling about not enjoying my job (a fairly recurring theme these days) and my current role, and one of my closest mates from the MBA simply asked me, “Is it the job? Or is it your desire to be perfect and to expect to always want to outperform that is not making you like it?” And then I thought about it — yes, maybe he was right. Maybe I was expecting to know it all and to hit the ground running right from the outset; I thought I had the skill and knowledge to do it all and didn’t want to take the intermediary learning step… And when I didn’t, I suddenly felt as though I was underperforming! I wasn’t living up to
expectations… And worst of all, I was failing! Fear realized, multiple sleepless nights followed.
Having this fear may be a good thing (to some extent). It could also, however, be a bad thing, but it is something that has come to frame my thought process, my actions and my drive over time. I am thankful for it in many ways, and believe that I may not have done all that I have over the last several years without this sense of fear… But now that I know, maybe it is time to develop a method of controlling it, of reining it in! Too much of something is never a good thing, right? Or at least that’s what I was always told when I went to the fridge for more candy! Is there then another fear that surpasses the fear of failure?
So, even though I call this my biggest fear, and admit to it being so, I ain’t jumping off planes or climbing the Himalayas… So for those who have tried to convince me to do some of these wacky things in the past, you may want to try again!