Listen to this story:
I’ve always been the baby: always the youngest in my family, in my class, and always, always the inexperienced newcomer at work.
That is until I woke up one day, looked around, and realized that was no longer the case. At Reddit meetups, at IGN, and basically everywhere I go in San Francisco, I’m consistently the oldest person in the room. My go-to ’90s references are getting outdated by the minute — who the hell is Danny Tanner?
The scariest part of being an adult isn’t the fact that you’re getting old, but this realization that you still have so much fear living inside you. Things that you’ve been afraid of your whole life, and things you’ve been meaning to work on but haven’t because you think you still have time to improve. You’ve arrived at the infamous sink or swim moment, only to realize you were too afraid of drowning so you never learned how to swim.
I grew up being afraid; and in many ways, I still am. It’s not because of my parents or however they raised me, though like many children from Hong Kong, the priority of education overruled everything else. The curiosity for exploration, the permission to play in the mud, the opportunity to fail.
I was good in school and got decent grades, but everything outside of a classroom simply terrified me from the lack of experience. So over time I learned to play it safe and stuck with the little things I do know. I always stay behind the yellow line, I drive under the speed limit, and you can never spot me near the deep end of the pool. I continue to play it safe to this day because anything else would terrify me.
Fear is something we simply don’t talk about because it makes us look weak and unattractive. In today’s social age, we focus on putting our best foot forward, our proudest moments out in the openness of Facebook and Twitter, bragging for Likes and Retweets. Anything that doesn’t represent (or help build the facade of) our very best simply gets erased and forgotten.
But fear isn’t something that goes away just because we don’t bring it up. It lingers on, because it’s the only thing that you secretly hold on to; like gravity it keeps you on the ground, safe from harm. Fear is also that one step from reaching your goals and dreams.
Fear is something we secretly grab on to, something we instinctively embrace, so let’s embrace it. Announcing Ingredients of Fear, a multi-part series that explores the many parts of my fears. Fears that range from completely understandable to utterly irrational — things that I really shouldn’t be afraid of anymore, but for one reason or another, I still am.
Ingredients of Fear is a series about everything that’s holding me back. It’s a personal journey of these moments where I took the safer route, moments where I succumbed into the darkness, as well as moments where I somehow found a way of climbing my way back out.
Like my 100 Words for 100 Days project back in 2013, I’m not entirely sure where this project will take me. But isn’t that precisely the purpose of it all, to document the process as I dive my way in and toward the unknown?
I may not be the youngest person in the room anymore, but I’m also not afraid to explore the dark, because it’s only then can my eyes settle and realize, things are probably not as scary as I originally thought.
With this I invite you to join me on this exploration into the darkness, and the many ingredients that make up my fears.