Tuesday, September 3, 2013

PFR #7: Fears/Potentials

Hi from San Francisco,
As anyone at all involved in fantasy sports knows, it's the first week of football season. Yesterday, before the next few bunch season's worth of Sundays are spent on couches and in sports bars, we had a SundayFunday skateboarding and playing disc golf, watching Breaking Bad and getting heated over Settlers (of Catan) too many dumplings and just the right amount of everything else.

For anyone looking to start their (Jewish) New Year with some good Karma, I have three friends doing awesome fundraisers:
-Sam Reed is raising $ for her students- and they are in the hood so they can use every penny. She's a sweetheart and I'm sure a great teacher.
-Kev Aries is doing the Jimmy Fund walk and his muscles are so big and beautiful I can't say no to anything he asks.
-Paul Penczner  is doing the New York Marathon in support of the Innocence Project. So proud of you Paul!
If you've got a few dollars around, click a name and pat yourself on the back. Anyhoo...

All summer I've been asking my hosts a series of questions including "What is Your Greatest Fear?" Before they answer, people usually ask why or what's yours. I'll get both out of the way before I start word dumping.
Why-  As interesting as I find the literal question, I was asking  friends to reveal themselves, to answer a subquestion of "who are you?" without letting them identify this idea of self with a job or an address or a car. Silly people give silly answers, over-thinkers give a whole pile of answers and follow up answers. However a person answers, it would help me adjust my ensuing questions on the questionnaire. Originally I was hoping there would be common fears that my friends-regardless of location- share and others that were West coast fears or male fears or other specific types of fear. In college I studied research psychology and creative writing so asking these questions might be a thing I trained myself to do.
Confronting fear and embracing uncertainty are part of an ever-evolving person. How each person deals with their fears and insecurities is part of being an adult or whatever you want to call it.
Some people don't do anything that they fear and that's a huge bummer. I believe that we choose our own attitude about confronting our fears (but I might have just stolen that idea from reading Victor Frankel) and that in moments of fear- when our guard and ideas of who we "should" be fall down- we reveal who we are.

What's Mine? Greatest fears are asterisked. Thing's I'm afraid of include:
-It will turn out I'm entitled and never really earned/amounted to anything by myself. 
-Good things changing so fast I don't have a chance to realize it's time to hang on tight. 
-People thinking I'm boring/annoying.
*Snapping out of my life like it was a dream or a drug trip and now I'm someone else in a new reality.  Google metaphysics, I'm afraid of any example you find there. 
*Losing my parents.
-Being that guy when I'm 40 (You know: the one who is hitting on young girls in dive bars, renting a shitty apt,  telling himself how cool he is while wondering what the meaning of his life will be.) 

What have other people said?
Please note that most of my friends are white, college educated, employed in a office environment, living in a city, so generalizations aren't meant to be representing all or even most people.

The most common fear I've heard is "not living up to my potential" in which potential usually refers to a job: how high up the corporate ladder I can climb or never starting my own company or not making enough money. About half the people I've asked said they fear not being as successful as they perceive their potential allows. Interestingly, people have a hard time drawing a line and saying "$X salary would be enough" or "_____ is what success looks like for me."
I worry that this vague idea of success is a moving line and every time we get a raise or get promoted or accomplish something we raise our idea for what is enough success. If we keep advancing the line of where our potential could lead is, we will never actually meet that goal and we will realize our own greatest fear. Write your goals down- they can't run ahead taunting you if they are fixed to a piece of paper.

Related to that is the many people who said "letting down my friends/family" where in addition to the professional implications there are fears of losing touch or not being there when somebody needs you.

Others have been all over the place:
Dying Alone, Losing My Father, Leaving Behind a Mangled Body, Parallasis, Pregnancy (that was a guy), Rats, Scary Dogs, Getting Murdered, Abandonment, Feeling Trapped, Giving in to Outside Pressure, Kidnapping, Humiliation, Heights, Losing Someone I care about, Poison, Loneliness, Having My Past Catch Up To Me.

What are your fears?

This pic has nothing to do with fear, it's just my favorite from San Diego last week. 
Two years ago I wrote a post struggling to identify myself between ideas of "artist" and "businessman" because I'm not either. I realized- in a daydream- if I had to drop in a category like these:  I'm an existential romantic. I like the bright side and expect big things out of my friends. I want to travel and write and push people to be happier and live more authentic lives.
For a while there, I had gotten out of touch with my reckless abandon. In certain ways I think I've intentionally numbed myself down into a more expected, uninteresting version of myself. This summer has taught me how important it is to do more of the things that you love and less of everything else. I'm afraid of forgetting that.


  1. Thanks for the shout-out (and donation) - much appreciated man. You'll be happy to know almost every time the WW guys are together you come up in conversation— mostly just someone being curious what you’re up to now. Among the scattered snapchats, blog posts, phone convos, texts and FB pictures… we put together the pieces. Either way, we’re infatuated with your journey and miss you. (Rumor says: you’ll “be home by Thanksgiving.”- hope that’s true, if not sooner). I’ll give you a call this weekish to exchanges some stories.

  2. Things I'm afraid of: becoming the person think I ought to be, rather than the person I'm meant to be. Also I'm afraid of pregnancy too. But probably for different reasons than the man you talked to.

    Also let's name our pug Mr. Boogie.