Twofish's Blog

August 1, 2006

Room 101

Filed under: academia, Career, personal, stress, wikipedia — twofish @ 6:30 am

I’m scared out of my mind right now, and that’s fine.

Fear is a normal reaction to the unknown, and since I have very little idea what my life is going to be like in two years, it’s natural to be more than a little afraid.  However, I think that what is different about me than I was when I was an undergraduate, is that I’m less afraid of being afraid.  My personality has been to charge forward into the unknown, because I’ve found the possibility of failure and humiliation is far less damaging than wondering what would have happened if you had made the leap.  For me, regret is far more painful and difficult to deal with than fear and public humiliation.

You have to acknowledge the fear, and you have to look closely at it to see exactly what the source of the fear is.  But I don’t think it is a good idea to be controlled by the fear.  So what am I afraid of?  I’m afraid of losing health, my family.  I’m afraid of public humilation (but curiously less so than most people).  Most of all, I’m afraid of being a bad person.  Those aren’t irrational fears, but they have to be managed.  The big problem with fear is that it lets you be controlled by other people.  In any real negotiation, the only way you can get something is by not being afraid to leave the table and walk and not being afraid that the counterparty will leave the table and walk.

But there is one big difference between fear and regret.  Fear is temporary.  You face the fear, and it goes away.  Regret?  That lasts forever……



  1. You’re so right. I’ve spent a lot of time in my life thinking “what if…?” and out of fear to take chances have missed out on a lot of things I’m sure. I took a chance recently though, and it seems like I’ve made a mistake anyway. There’s no real winning – no matter what we decide, no matter what risks we take, there’s always something we choose NOT to do and then have to think “what if I didn’t….?” You mention fear of “leaving the table to walk” or fear that your “counterparty” will do the same, and that’s what I did. I walked away from someone who genuinely loved me to be with someone I genuinely loved. Now I’m left wondering, “what if I’d stayed?” Would things have been better? I’ll never know. I guess the grass is always greener on the other side.

    Comment by heavenandheck — August 1, 2006 @ 11:39 am

  2. One thing that has helped me is that I’ve figured out that had I made some different decisions, things wouldn’t have been “better” or “worse” just different. (There is one thing in my life that would have made it a lot better, but it was something I couldn’t control).

    One idea that I’ve found that has seriously messed me up is the idea of the “one dream job” or “one dream mate.” Believing in this causes one to have huge amounts of pressure. The reality of the situation is that opportunities usually don’t come along like that. If you mess up opportunity A, there is a chance to dust yourself off and take opportunity B, and if you mess things up, there is opportunity C, and so forth….

    Comment by twofish — August 1, 2006 @ 1:04 pm

  3. Just a bit of background….

    The main reason I wrote what I did was that I’m about to enter into some major business negotiations, and I just needed to take a deep breath and calm my nerves. (Counterparty is a technical business term for the person on the other side of the table.)

    The thing with business negotiations is that the other side will often use every psychological trick in the book to get you to back down, and one powerful trick is to scare you. The thing about fear is that in moderate amounts, it’s actually exciting. I’ve lost some negotiations before, but I’ve won enough of them that part of me enjoys the “thrill of the hunt.”

    But in any sort of negotiation (personal and business), I’ve found that the key question is figuring out what I really want. It’s really a very hard question. I’ve found that once I’ve figured out what I really want (and what I really don’t want), then figuring out what to do is fairly straightforward.

    Comment by twofish — August 1, 2006 @ 1:16 pm

  4. I am not good at negotiation. One of the reasons is that I always put myself into other’s shoes rather than my own. I agree with you on fear. I’ve made relocating decisions twice in the past seven years and I always wonder “what if I had stayed back”. There is fear of staying away from home, but there is also fear of going back to my home country, a country develops at exponential speed. But from now on, I just need to make a decision, take the chance (Well, others have always thought I take every chance but they don’t see me struggling to come out with the decision, guess that is the characteristic of libra…)

    Dream job? I am more interested in arts than what I am doing right now. However, reality tells me that I need to feed myself.

    Comment by Nomad — August 16, 2006 @ 5:15 pm

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