Post-secondary is a strange safety zone. Just go through the motions and don’t make too much noise and you’ll graduate in four years (give or take) with a tightly wrapped, neat and shiny degree. If you’ve slid by doing the bare minimum, the only pressure you’ve felt is the cold sweat before an exam or the anxiety to meet a paper deadline. University makes toiling away quietly under the radar remarkably easy.
Of course, there are opportunities to push yourself, but those tasks aren’t handed out to just anyone. You have to seek them out. This, more than anything else, mirrors the magical and far-away notion of “the real world.”
Being able to balance heavy commitments and endless responsibilities while tackling big tasks that appeal to your passions and interests is the true test of your resilience. This is when the real pressure is applied. The pressure is “the fear.”
The fear can cause self-doubt, panic and too often, forfeit. The fear is powerful. The fear can knock the wind out of you and pummel you with closed fists while you’re down. The fear causes the questioning of abilities and the re-thinking of choices.
As powerful as a hurricane, as sudden as an earthquake and as unforgiving as a flash flood, the power the fear holds is immeasurable.
You’re waiting for the silver lining, so here it is: you can harness the fear. You can wrestle and overpower it.
But first, consider why the fear is so powerful. Much like the boogeyman, the fear is only as strong as we allow it to be.
The fear pollutes our psyche instantly and aggressively because we care deeply about our future. Reflect on why you feel the fear. Is it the possibility of failure? Failure is a badge of honour. Failure proves that you had the courage to grapple the fear one on one.
We learn the most about our true selves after a crushing defeat. Pick yourself up, get that eye stitched, ice that lip and have a drink of water because the bell for round two is about to ring. The fear is pacing in its corner, eyeing you up.
As beaten down, exhausted and winded as you may be, do not show weakness or vulnerability while sparring with the fear. Stay on your toes, hit first and strike hard. Throw a chokehold on that wiry bastard. Be ruthless. Be relentless. Be un- merciful. Watch it tap out and slip away from consciousness.
Stand tall, be proud and celebrate your victory. You’ve won. You were brave enough to challenge the devil that stops the chasing of innermost dreams and passions.
You went head-to-head with the twist in the pit of your stomach, the little voice in your head that spins lies about your abilities and only exists to make you feel inadequate. You conquered the demon that pre- vents people from reaching their full potential.
If all that is standing between you and your wildest dreams is the thuggish fear, why wouldn’t you take it on? The fact is, many people scrap their dreams because of the fear of the fear.
My solitary wish for my fellow fourth-years as we go through the motions in our last week as students and saunter into the “real world,” is to never forget your own power.
Disregard anyone and anything hindering your ascent. Choose what you want and pursue it relentlessly. Ride bravely into battle. Tackle your demons and obliterate self-doubt.
After all, the only thing we have to fear is nothing. Nothing at all.