“Many are harmed by fear itself, and many may have come to their fate while dreading fate.”
It was from Kung Fu Panda where Master Oogway said: “People often find their destiny in the path they take to avoid it”. It may be ominous, but one can’t deny that in our efforts to avoid those that we fear the most, we end up finding ourselves face to face with it in the end.
I can’t help but think that my pessimism in the past have led me to take actions that forced me to engage in the terrible situations that I tried to hard to avoid.
I guess it was a couple of years ago, when I had to prepare for a lecture in my graduate class which was part of our final requirement. For weeks, I have been so paranoid that I will make a mistake, that I forced myself to prepare for it so intensively. I was micromanaging so many aspects of my life, so that I could have enough time to read my notes, to make sure my slides were in order, that I was prepared. My planner was full with things I want to manage, and I was stressed out making sure I would be prepared.
And all that hard work, it really didn’t pay off.
It was the worst presentation I have ever given, because I was all over the place. Instead of pacing myself and looking over what I had to go over, I was too busy trying to be efficient. This led me to forget to go over some topics, and most of the hour I was just rambling with no coherent message to deliver.
So all the things I’ve done to make sure I was prepared led me to not be prepared at all. My fear of failure came true because I was too busy avoiding it, instead of facing it head on.
A Stoic should not give in to fear, because it keeps him from seeing reason. But a Stoic should get rid of fear, and I can’t emphasize this enough, a Stoic is not emotionless, just in control of his emotions.
Fear is an emotion that results from facing a challenge or danger. Being fearless is a means of underestimating problems, or failure to acknowledge this that could harm oneself. Acknowledge fear, but don’t let it drive you.