Conquering your personal fears one step at a time

Graphic by Serena Truong

At a young age, I vividly remember being afraid of the dark. The basement was my worst nightmare and sleeping without a nightlight was unimaginable – it would almost certainly result in tears.
I was four then and looking back on it now, it sounds quite comical.

How could my greatest fear – the biggest obstacle that the child in me wanted to overcome – be the dark?

Fast forward over fifteen years and my next biggest fear has become public speaking.

Speaking in front of large crowds terrified me. I wanted to get better, I really did. But no matter what I tried it seemed like I wasn’t making any progress.

The thing about being afraid of something is that it can often make you feel helpless. It can also frustrate you to the point where you feel worthless. This can make you want to give up.

That’s exactly the moment where you don’t give up.

In fact, it’s the pressure of speaking in front of a large audience – the sweaty palms, the nervous voice, the anxious mind – which allows me to make my best presentation. In order words, I need the pressure and in some ways, I thrive off it. That’s what allows me to succeed.

We all need to work on improving our skill sets. This desire to grow is what will allow you to keep going. Yes, you might be putting tremendous pressure on yourself, but a great deal of that pressure is necessary.

There really is no substitute to hard work. So, don’t cut corners. Keep in mind that you are going to have to put in the time and effort if you want to improve. This means creating that extra hour or two in your schedule.

We all have busy lives, but this isn’t an excuse for putting something off. If you work at it, day by day, you can chip away until you are able to make some progress.

Set weekly goals and celebrate your small victories. Remember, no matter how insignificant it may feel at that moment, your future self will likely be thankful.

Look for people who are supportive of your dreams and aspirations – those who will push you to become the best version of yourself. Sometimes, you need that voice cheering you on as you do something. We all need a support system and most of all, we all need role models. So, find someone who you can trust to guide you.

On the other side, if you see someone struggling to overcome something or someone who just needs your help, make sure you are there for them. We are all fighting our own battles no matter how large or small the may seem.

Embrace their differences. Don’t make them feel left out simply because they can’t do something as quickly or effectively as you can.

Stay patient, I’m sure there’s something you can learn from them as well.

The frustrating thing about fear and anxiety are that they might never quite go away. But, that’s just fine. Learn to channel those feelings and convert them into whatever works for you.

In fact, it’s the pressure of speaking in front of a large audience – the sweaty palms, the nervous voice, the anxious mind – which allows me to make my best presentation. In order words, I need the pressure and in some ways, I thrive off it. That’s what allows me to succeed.

When you want something so bad, you cannot let fear get in your way. This means your desire to overcome any obstacles must be far greater than the obstacles themselves. That’s the bottom line.

Just take a moment to think; how satisfying will it feel when you overcome something you thought you could never do?

So, take baby steps if you must, maintain your growth mindset and surround yourself with people who will support you through your struggles.

You can do this, just trust the process and – most importantly – have faith in yourself.

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