There will be those moments after you watch a documentary, hear a prominent person in the society talk, or read a highly engaging article in the newspaper that your mind starts to form new ideas. They set your neurons on fire, sending tingling sensations to your toes and fingertips. These ideas seem as brilliant as sparks of electricity. You start to think that you can change the world, if only you can get out these ideas there.
You think you understand how the media works enough to publish an essay on your blog. You think that you have found out the answer to the country’s policy and economic problems. You think that you have what it takes to write a novel or a screenplay, direct a movie, or start a cause that will change the whole world.
You start thinking that maybe, just maybe, you really are meant to change the world, or maybe be recognized as someone who cares, and someone who has made a big impact.
Most of us, if not all, have those brief eureka moments.
Yes, I do have those moments almost every day. For example, just now, I’ve finished watching a documentary about the New York Times. I’ve had a couple of realizations about how emerging media and the generation Z shape each other. Another one is how important it is that traditional media stay afloat and significant even in the midst of new media. These thoughts keep my brain buzzing for a few minutes, just imagining all the possibilities (i.e., do a study, write an article, volunteer in community work or the campus paper)
Light bulb moments like this shed to me a new light about who I am and what I can actually do. It’s amazing. It’s awe-inspiring. I can’t quite believe that I would have the audacity to just step out into that community of thinkers and movers and really fit in.
I really think I can. This thought then lasts for a number of minutes.
As quickly my brain’s nerve endings fizz and sparkle excitedly at the prospects, they also sizzle just as immediately. I forget about them. Get discouraged. Settle for the norm. I start to see that I can do away with these seemingly bright ideas at the expense of criticism, rejection and judgment.
I can actually explain to you all the reasons why I try not to try in a book, but today, I realized that there’s only one reason why I can be such a quitter. This reason also explains my bad case of self-handicapping. It’s so simple.
I am afraid.
It doesn’t matter what I am afraid of; the impact of the fear in my poor mind and heart do not vary, despite of its causes. I am afraid of losing, of being compared with my peers, of judgment, of misunderstanding, of high expectations, of committing mistakes, of tears, of disappointment. I am scared. The fear cripples me.
It keeps my view of reality in check. Dare I try to reach out more, it comes and it does so violently. Frankly, mercilessly, my eyes shift to my imperfections, my past, my background, my societal status. If it does not, however, make me zero in on my self, I am made to realize my peers’ abilities, their boldness, their virtues, their beauty, their abilities… apparently everything that makes them more deserving of such a role than me.
And I think that this fear has been my disease for quite a long time. I’ve failed before, and been criticized severely; I knew back then that I did not want that to happen again. My big heart shrank as tentacles of fear start to take hold of me and shape me to someone who backs down easily, who does not speak up bravely during group discussions, who only whispers the answers to her teachers’ questions, who does not think she can lead. I’ve become like a little girl in hiding.
This fear has also made me envious and insecure. I am only a spectator in the lives of the people around me—those who actually do what I also want. I want to be out there, but I always convince myself that I don’t deserve there. That I cannot.
The voices are endless.
If you’ve been there, you know exactly what I feel. You’ll know what kind of person I am.
There came a day, however, that I decided that I don’t want to be that kind of person anymore. I don’t want to be always afraid. I want to take risks, to fly, to flee, and yes, to fail. I want to learn new things, and do them to help my country or community, despite criticisms. I want to be willing to risk being judged and misinterpreted. I want to not be afraid anymore.
But I don’t know how to drive the fear away. This decision to change seems to have left me in a more hopeless state.
A few days ago, though, Father revealed to me how fear can be banished. He led me to the book of 1 John. In chapter 4, it said:
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. (v. 18)
It was this all along.
If only I believed more in His love, than what I saw in my test papers, the mirror, or my social status.
If only I believed more in His love for me and His faithfulness in securing me than what the people around me said and judged.
If only I believed more in my God rather than the voice of the Enemy in my head or the wisdom of this world.
I can step out if I wanted to, because He designed me to stand out. I am a flower that is a difference in a great beautiful meadow. People could have judged and misunderstood, but their words shouldn’t have really kept me from doing what Father put in my heart. I shouldn’t have wallowed in my severe self-handicapping. I should have focused on Jesus in me. I wasn’t just afraid, I realized. I doubted my Father’s ability. I doubted His faithfulness. I doubted His hands-on involvement in my reality.