Anything in the world is possible. But there is always one thing that stops us from doing it: fear. This can be the fear of starting a new business, the fear of public speaking, or even just the fear of something unknown. Fear often happens when part of us tells us to go for it, and another part of us tell us to be careful of the consequences. Feeling the effects of these consequences can be enough to stop us from taking action all together. But one thing that cancels out all fear is having knowledge of what you’re going up against and then taking action.
For example, when I was younger, one thing that I was always afraid of was math. In middle school, I loved to being creative. I was a person who thought spontaneous and did things on the fly. I remember I got an A in English class for making a Hobbit board game out of Play-Doh – an experiment we did for our final project. But when high school came, it was time to be more serious, and the first serious math class I had was algebra. Although this may have been a very easy subject for many people at the time, I struggled in it.
I realized that I struggled because I was afraid of what was going to be on the test – whether this was adding fractions, multiplying polynomials, or solving linear equations. My dad didn’t want to see me start off high school bad; after all, it was the start of my future. In order to get over this, I remember for two semesters straight, we would sit down everyday in my room and study math problems for three hours straight. It was crazy. Sometimes one unknown problem would take us up to an hour to finish it – the first of 30 problems. But after that, I never feared an algebra test. I aced the tests and got the highest grade in class at the end of the year, even with the option of just getting half of the answers right for the final in order to get an A-. This was how important having knowledge was for getting rid of the fear I had.
Going way back to when I was a child now, another fear I had was piano recitals. They were nerve-racking to just visualize – the fact that you would be put in a silent room surrounded by an audience eager to listen to your best work. I remember constantly telling myself, “What if I forget the notes?” or “What if I play a key wrong?” If any of these things were to happen, the music would sound incomplete, and even awful. The worst possible scenario I thought of was just my mind going completely empty and not being able to play music at the day of the recital. That thought produced all sorts of awkward tension and anxiety.
See, the thing is knowledge is important to conquer our fears, but it’s not the full equation. When doing math tests, I still needed to write the answers on the test form and do in 50 or so minutes. In piano recitals, not only did I need to memorize the music, but I needed to press the keys that corresponded to each note. When I was by myself in my room, I would blank everything out and focus on my fingers going through each note in rhythm. I did this so often that it just became natural. On the day of the recital, the fear was still somewhat there, but not so much. I had already practiced this moment a hundred times at home. As it was my turn to come up, I walked up and sat on the seat. Dozens of family members’ eyes were on me. My piano teacher signaled for me to begin, and I just did it. The last thing I remember was a round of applause.
When you add knowledge and action together, an amazing result happens. You gain a certain power in you that knows that if you were to face a challenge that you were scared of before, you would be able to fly through it the second, third, or fourth time around. In fact, you might even enjoy the challenge because you get better and better at it each time. Some people call this “experience” and others call it “skill”. But the truth of the matter is experience or skill comes from going through fear, but not going through it blindly. It means going through it with immense knowledge of what you’re dealing with and constant repetitive actions of what you will have to go through. At the end of this process, fear becomes nothing.
How have you overcome fear in your life?