The crazy thing about fear is that we aren’t born with it.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned about myself over the years, it’s that I’m not afraid to put myself and my ideas out there. For some of you reading this, you’re the complete opposite (and that’s okay!).
Fear is something we learn over time. Whether it’s from the people around us or the circumstances we live in. However, fear is also something we can overcome with effort.
I want to share a quick story with you about overcoming fear…
When I graduated college I was getting ready to find my first “real” job as a graphic designer. I’d done some freelance design work before graduating, but nothing substantial and nothing long-term. I remember a friend showing me a job listing for a graphic design job at a major sports agency. Immediately doubt and fear crept in. My portfolio didn’t contain any sports-related work. I didn’t have other sports-related experience. How could I land a job at a world-renowned company with almost no worthwhile credentials?
I remember asking myself all these “what if” questions but decided what the heck and submitted my resume and portfolio (none of which fit the criteria of what they were looking for). A few days later I received an email and was asked to come in for an interview. Fear set in again, because now I had my foot in the door, but couldn’t hide behind technology. I had to sit in front of accomplished people and pretend I could do this job I applied for.
I took the interview and decided I wouldn’t pretend to be something I wasn’t. They asked questions about previous experience in the sports industry, knowing anything about that sport (which was tennis), and why I thought I was the right fit. I didn’t have great answers to any of those questions, but instead, I tried to be honest. I told them I was eager to learn and that it seemed like an environment I’d thrive in. I stood behind the work I had done and explained my processes and how I worked.
I distinctly remember being scared when they asked me to name five active tennis players and I couldn’t. But instead of letting fear paralyze me, I flipped the question back to them and asked them to name five principles used in graphic design. Just like I couldn’t name tennis players, they couldn’t name design principles.
The interview finished and a few days later I was offered the job. Had I let my fear of the unknown take over, I would never have gotten the job. A job that led me to meet a fellow designer, which led to my first entrepreneurial venture, which led to the idea of IWearYourShirt, which led to me doing more writing, which led to you reading this blog post (and many other things).
There are many moments in our lives when we have decisions that need to be made. Those decisions typically bring about fear and can seem daunting. One way I overcome fear is to ask myself “what’s the worst thing that will happen if I do this?” More often than not, there is no “worst thing.” There’s no outcome that I can’t survive.
Whatever the thing is that you’re afraid of doing right now just ask yourself:
What’s the worst thing that will happen if I do this?
I’m willing to bet if you answer that question honestly and really drill down, the fear you have won’t be so paralyzing. In fact, the fear you once had might seem trivial.