Fear: “Don’t even look at that job advertisement It’s not for you. It’s for smart people.”
Me: “Maybe I can do it!”
Fear: “No really. Notice the salary. You’ve got to be better than you are to even try. If you go for it, you’ll look like an idiot. They’ll be plenty of better qualified, more intelligent people lining up for it and everyone will wonder what you’re doing.”
The problem with fear, apart from the obvious trait — scaring you half to death — is it’s a liar. It tells huge porky pies right to your face.
For some reason, you imagine it’s a friend. It wants to protect you, right? You think it knows you better than you know yourself. When it says “stop! You’re about to screw up!” You listen.
You are disappointed at not meeting a challenge, but, you’re grateful it made you back down and shelter in your comfort zone where the world’s safe.
I was in my early twenties when I saw the ad for the job as a project manager for an esteemed company. Weirdly enough, I had experience, and I’d crammed in many qualifications during my life so far. But still, my fear thought it knew best.
Fear: “You’d be interviewed by a panel of professionals. It says so in the ad. How terrifying is that! They’ll pick your bones while you sink through the floor with embarrassment because you’ve got nothing to say.”
Me: “Oh. It does sound scary…”
Fear: “Stay at home and scour the papers for a simple, menial job. The type you know you can do.”
But I was fed up with unskilled jobs. I’d been determined to find a brilliant position as soon as I set foot in the city, but nothing great was forthcoming.
I’d shunted along through trades monkeys could do standing on their heads and been treated like one. The wages, of course, were peanuts. And I wanted more.
Something inside me knew life shouldn’t be as dull. So, I spoke back to my fear.
Me: “I’m applying for the job, anyway. The worst that can happen is I’ll not get it. So, I won’t have lost anything I didn’t have already.”
Fear: “You absolute dimwit! You’ll be found out as an impostor. Yes, you’ve got qualifications. But applying knowledge to real life is hard, and you can’t do it.”
Me: “Look, it will be good interview experience, if nothing else.”
Fear demonstrates your insecurities. Now and then it genuinely saves you from difficulties, but nine times out of ten it holds you back.
How do you know the difference between those times fear can help or hinder though?
Examine what it says rather than taking its words on-board without question.
Me: “Listen Fear, I know you want me to stay where it’s safe, but it’s getting boring, and I might have more qualifications and experience than other applicants. Ever thought of that?”
Sometimes, simply confronting fear with facts to back up your aspirations is enough to make it fade.
At this point, you might want me to say the interview was far easier than my fear told me it would be, but that wouldn’t be true.
The panel included at least twelve people, maybe more, and they took turns to shoot questions.
Maybe, you’d like me to say I answered each demand with ease, but that’s not how it went.
I didn’t understand one of the questions at all; not a clue. I asked for it to be repeated, and no; I still didn’t understand. So, I said it might be clearer phrased differently, and fear piped up in my head
Fear: “They’ve got you! You’ve lost, just like I told you. See the door over there? Why not make a run for it before they blast you to smithereens!”
At times, fear will suggest you leave just before the audience cheers, and you’ll never know you got a standing ovation.
Luckily, I remained in my seat while the question was delivered in another way so I could, at last, reply.
I drove home after the interview and my boyfriend — who would, one day, be my husband — called to ask how it went.
A self-defeating laugh escaped from my lips as I told him I’d better keep looking for a job because there was no way I’d secured this one.
An hour later, though, the phone rang. It was someone from the panel calling to say I’d got the job. “I knew you were the one really fast,” she said. “But we had to check everybody agreed and give you time to get home before we could let you know.”
A few months into the job, I asked the woman who called why I was chosen.
“Oh. It was an easy choice,” she replied. “All the candidates had experience and qualifications like you, but you wore yellow.”
“You hired me because I wore a yellow jacket?”
“That and the way you didn’t babble a load of rubbish when we asked you a question you didn’t understand. You made sure you knew what we wanted and weren’t afraid to admit you didn’t comprehend what was said. Most prospective employees would say anything rather than confess they didn’t get what we were saying.”
When fear speaks, pause to consider whether it’s telling you facts or downright lies.
If I’d listened to my fear, I wouldn’t have even attempted to get a decent job, and my life would have been so different.
Remember, your fear’s a big fibber. Don’t let it get the better of you.
Copyright © 2019 Bridget Webber. All rights reserved