My Biggest Fear Before Leaving for the Peace Corps

My number one fear: I won’t be good enough. I wasn’t meant for this position. The Fear of Failure.

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I’m afraid that these next two years are going to reveal that I am not so brave or strong. I’m afraid of losing my friends and family, the people I care about the most, that they will be gone.

The fear of losing the people that have built a trust and a feeling of security throughout my life. Whether it may from my childhood years at my elementary school, to the recent times between my travels in the world, I’m moving in a different position now.

Neither in a hierarchical sense, nor in any sense of power. In this instance, my personal identity and image is at risk.

We all hold a certain image to which our identity is tied to. Robin hood of the town. The White Knight. The true Leader. A true Soldier.

I guess I’ve watching too many hero movies to think about all of things. We live in the real world, people mess up all the time, and I don’t think limiting ourselves to the “hero” standard would do me any good.

Fears

As fars as my fears go, this is what I could name off the top of my head. I could probably name more if I gave it more time, but I think this can suffice, for the sake of transparency.

  1. Fear of losing my connections with my family because I will not want to talk, out of fear that they will think less of me
  2. Closing myself out of the rest of the world because I am struggling and I’m afraid that people will judge my current status, and call me a failure
  3. Failure to uphold the image that I have as a person that some people look up to
  4. Not being able to upkeep my responsibility as a Peace Corps veteran
  5. Changing too much that my old friends will not understand me
  6. Being below average in my performance as a businessman for the Peace Corps
  7. Not being good enough for my job, not making any progress despite my efforts
  8. Not being able to immerse myself in the environment
  9. Not being able to connect
  10. Unable to be happy
  11. Depression
  12. Loneliness
  13. The feeling that I am so lost, that I’m there in Africa with all of these presumptions of what I am supposed to do, only to set myself up for all of these expectations that I cannot live up to

To sum up my list of fears, about 13 major fears that I’ve listed out, the headline that sticks out is:

I won’t be good enough. I wasn’t meant for this position.

I could dissect this all I want, but I decided to find a way to tackle this fear. This is my mindset and approach: understand the fear and take the risk.

My mindset of fear is that it does not go away. Fear doesn’t magically disappear because any newfound courage or confidence in ability or skill, rather, it becomes manageable. We become comfortable with the consequence because we understand it. Fear cannot not extinguished, so in order to overcome any sort of fear, I think the easiest approach is to give it a face. Give the fear a form that we can understand, an identity that we understand.

I remember when I was first given the chance to become project manager for a group project. Of course, the stakes are not as high as the practice in real life, but the pressure was still on to be able to get through an intense semseter of learning, presentations, and becoming a motivational factor and leader for my peers. I was nervous and afraid I wasn’t able to lead my peers. They were my friends that trusted my judgement, and I had made the wrong move, I had to justify my reasons in a difficult uphill battle with my stupidity and bad decisions. On the other hand, I would also be responsible for the glory and pride that our group could take for pulling off a successful project.

Stakes were moderately high, at least for a college student. I was running through the course, trying to dodge every obstacle, instead of tackling it with confidence and fear by my side.

My mistake during that period of practice was that I had painted a pretty picture, far too early.

Everything is going great! Good job guys! Just do this, and that’s it.

We did “just enough”. Doesn’t work like that in the real world, though.

Actually, the mistake of painting a pretty picture of our group progress wasn’t much of a mistake during the time, but because I did not attempt to break the barrier within a low-stakes environment, I lost an opportunity to learn what we could do as a group to achieve something better. Of course, we were in a college class where Cs get degrees, but Cs won’t do shit on in the real world.

A New Approach

With the mindset that I am willing to break the barrier this time, regardless of the stakes at hand, this will be my resolve in tackling my fear during the Peace Corps. I have no idea of this approach is incorrect, but I don’t think my life will be in any danger if I make a mistake here. My intentions and mindset are to continue trying, continue making minor improvements every single day within my work environment. If trying means I need to make some dicey decisions, I will need to find the commitment in myself to stick with this mentality.

If the opportunity presents itself to take a step forward… break the barrier, and commit to the risk.

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