Fighting Fear

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The end of the semester is not just focused around finals and closing the residence halls, but also around staff evaluations. I have always enjoyed the conversations that happen in evaluations-it’s a chance for me to tell my staff the things that they’re good at and push them in a different way. I feel my Developer strength really plays into this-I typically say something to my staff members about themselves and they look at me and go, “Wow, you’re right.” I am often surprised at how strong my intuition is, but it never really fails me.

One thing that I have noticed through my three years completing these evaluations has really made me think about how we all perceive ourselves and how other people perceive us. So often, I have to tell people that I see so much potential that they are not using. I also have to tell them that the expectations they have for themselves are so much higher than my own, or my department’s. I had chalked it up to be a factor of our student population (first generation, blue-collar), but I’m starting to wonder if it’s actually something else.

I have been doing a lot of work recently on myself and read a book called The Universe Has Your Back, by Gabrielle Bernstein. In it, it talks a lot about how we let fear hold us back from a lot of things, not even intentionally. It made me think a lot about my life up until this point and how I have let fear hold me back from so many things…one of those things being my career. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job, and it’s important work, and I adore my students. It’s just that I don’t think this is what I was ever meant to be doing. Music is my true passion, but I’ve never had time to devote to it the way that I want to and that’s because I was never allowed to pursue it fully. One of those reasons was the fear that I wouldn’t “make it”. The other was the fear that I wasn’t good enough. Another was the fear that I wouldn’t be able to support myself. Fear drove me away from the one thing that I feel is my absolute calling.

I have also come to realize how much fear has held me back personally. I’ve been afraid to put myself out there, afraid to meet new people, afraid to do things that I really want to do because ultimately I am afraid of not being accepted. I am afraid of rejection. I am afraid of being told that I’m not good enough. As a result, I have let so many opportunities pass me by, and now all I can do is sit here and wonder what would have happened.

But I don’t think I’m the only one who does this. I think MOST of us do this. We’re told to go after your dreams and pursue them, but we’re also told of the consequences of doing that. “Don’t be too bossy. Don’t be so emotional. Don’t do this and don’t do that.” Often times the things we most desire are the things that society tells us we shouldn’t or can’t do. But here’s the kicker-deep down, we all know this. We know that we hold ourselves back. We are all aware that there are things in life that we can do better, be better at, things we wish we could achieve but we’re afraid of it or the consequences. And we are right to weigh the options and consider all of the outcomes. But I think that we see ourselves differently than how other people actually see us, and our self-perception plays much too big a part in our minds. Our self-perception skews our capacity to achieve.

It makes me sad that my student staff don’t see how amazing and wonderful they are. I try to tell them how much potential they have in their evaluations. Whether or not they choose to use it is up to them. All I know is I want to get them, and myself, out of our comfort zones. I want us all to push past the fear. Who knows what we’ll be able to do when that happens.

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