“My fear is that I don’t know what my fears are.”
A while back, I gathered around with friends, and by some serendipitous impulse, we found ourselves asking each other a question: "What's your greatest fear?"
Responses varied from fear of heights and confined spaces to spiders or the deep ocean.
When my turn came, I responded with these words: "I have no fears."
Each preceding response centered around the theme of mortality in one form or another. If I’m not afraid of death, therefore, I have no fears.
To me, that made sense. To my friends, they thought I was full of baloney.
Almost a year passed, and I was asked the same question by a different group of people: “What’s your biggest fear?”
I already knew my answer, but this time, it felt incomplete so I decided to reflect on it.
Now, I have a clear answer.
My fear is that I don’t know what my fears are.
But I’d like to introduce myself to them, invite them for dinner, and have a chat. I want to become friends with my fears.
Why is it important to know your fears? Because they’re ugly Machiavellian monsters. Fears control without your consent and do whatever it takes to get what they want.
But don’t worry, as formidable as fears may present themselves, they possess a singular Achilles' heel: their vulnerability when exposed. Fears are similar to mischievous vampires caught unexpectedly in the burning sunlight – they swiftly dissolve into nothingness, like snowflakes meeting a flamethrower, or like a cat encountering an unexpected cucumber, disappearing hastily
Once you’ve identified your fears, invite them to join you on your path. Take a seat together, gaze into their eyes, and in a voice as delicate as a freshly fallen leaf, assure them: “You're going to be alright.”
I encountered my fears and extended an invitation for a leisurely walk together. As we set off, their unease was palpable. They could barely walk or talk. With gentle insistence, I encouraged them to maintain their pace. It wasn't until we had covered five miles that I identified a particularly influential one among them.
The moment I saw its nature and observed the way it walked, I immediately knew.
One of my biggest fears is conformism. I want to fully live and follow my curiosity to make my life a gift to myself and to the world. On one side of the coin lies fear, and on the other, your gifts.
Consider your fears stand as the complementary counterparts to these gifts. We all have unique talents, waiting to be found.
Fears demand time and introspection to understand. But they’re one of the most powerful forces in the universe and the path to finding your gifts.
Conformity grips me in its grasp, and I transform into a comfortphobic molecule, repelling anything that bears its likeness. It's from this very resistance that one of my greatest gifts of collective curiosity springs forth.
All fears are gifts. All gifts are fears.
My collective curiosity drives me to share what I’ve learned and provide distinct perspectives on life, college, or other experiences that navigate my existence. Yet, lurking within me is the fear of witnessing the younger generation and the world itself succumb to mediocrity. This fear propels me to pour my heart into every essay, video, or project I craft, with the hope that they awaken individuals to ponder profoundly about their lives and the vast world that surrounds them.
The world is hungry for a broader range of possibilities, for a spectrum of alternatives to the cookie-cutter choices often presented. Take college, for instance. It's not merely about tolerating tedious classes, boring internships, or drowning in weekend parties. Rather, it's an avenue to explore find what you love doing, explore personal curiosities, craft projects that mirror your genuine interests, and forge your own unique path.
My fear of conformism, or, if you turn the coin, my deep desire to kindle a spark of ambitious thinking within individuals about their lives, remains a consistent thread woven into every project I've created. Not a single exception exists.
Upcoming project: Phones are an extension of ourselves and they should help us think more ambitiously about our lives. Essentially, an app designed to infuse lives with novelty and interest, seeking to transform our smartphones from distractions to instruments of ambition.
At times, these projects arise from a mere spark of curiosity, an opportunity to explore a new idea, or a relentless determination to prove one's capabilities. However, swiftly and inevitably, they transform into a mission, a conspiracy to inspire people to be more curiously and ambitiously optimistic. I truly believe this is a path out of the many to reach a life fully lived. A belief that each individual carries a unique purpose, and the purpose to is to find it. That’s the ultimate purpose.
I’ll end with an analogy about the dichotomy of fears and gifts.
Fears are like stuck staples in a staple. No matter how many times you try to staple that piece of paper, it resists, a result of that maddeningly jammed stapler. However, there's no need to wage war on that hapless staple. Instead, inhale deeply, unlock the stapler, and see why and how it got trapped.
Now, reload the stapler, close the stapler, and start on your stapling mission.
What used to be an obstinate stapler turns into an extraordinary tool fastening anything in its path.
Fears, once a stumbling block, become a passage to finding your gifts.
If you’re into interesting ideas (like the one you just read), join my Weekly Memos, and I’ll send you new essays right when they come out.