How FEAR Held Me Back

March 22, 2021

I’ve seen a lot of clever acronyms for FEAR, so I had to come up with one of my own: Failure of Excellence, Achievement, and Rewards. Ok, I’ll admit this is a bit of a stretch, but by Failing to strive for Excellence, you’ll also fail to Achieve and miss out on the accompanying Rewards. The reality is the crippling power of FEAR can paralyze us and prevent us from taking action necessary to achieve our goals.

The New Girl

It was the second semester of my junior year at Orangeburg High. A new girl had transferred to the school from out of town, and I was immediately smitten by her attractiveness and sweet personality.  She was in several classes with me, and I spent a lot of class time just looking at her. I was shy with girls, so while we exchanged some hellos, I wasn’t confident enough to engage her in a real conversation.

Other guys talked to her, and I was jealous, though I had no reason to be. More importantly, my jealously wasn’t enough motivation to spur me to action. One of the guys she chatted with was a senior and a star on the basketball team, and he talked to her a lot. I assumed that she liked him as well.

The Prom

The junior/senior prom was soon coming up, and I wanted her to go with me, but I was too shy and afraid to ask her. I suspected she would be going with the basketball star, and, through the grapevine, I discovered that I was right. I asked another girl who thought I was cute and who had a crush on me. Even though she wasn’t my first choice, we had a good time, but I spent a good part of the evening looking (clandestinely, of course) at my dream date and the basketball star, wishing I were in his place.  

A few days later, I talked to a close friend of mine who asked how I had enjoyed the prom. I told her that I had a good time, but I confided in her that it was the new girl I wanted to take. Her demeanor immediately changed, and she asked me, “Why didn’t you ask her?” I told her that I knew she would be going with the basketball star, so it would have been a wasted effort. She called me a “dummy” and told me that I had blown it. She had talked to the new girl the day after the prom.  My dream date told my friend that she really liked me and wanted to go to the dance with me, but I had never asked her. She reluctantly went with the basketball star because he was the only one who asked, and she told my friend that she had a terrible time.

The Hurt

I was shocked but even more so, greatly disappointed in myself. It hurt me deeply to know that I could have had exactly what I wanted if I had only had the courage to ask. I promised myself right then and there that I would never again allow FEAR to keep me from going after something that I wanted.

Most of the things we are afraid of are imagined, like the monsters in the dark or the boogeyman we feared as kids. To a considerable extent, fear results from our erroneous perceptions, like my assumptions about my dream date. One person can see a large dog and think it is the cutest thing in the world. Another person can see the same dog and be terrified to death. But it’s the same dog. You can’t allow your fear to let you miss out on some fantastic rewards on your flight to excellence. Having the courage to go after the things you want can bring you unexpected joys in life.

A Quote to Consider!
“Everything you want is on the other side of fear.

-Jack Canfield