This is a guest post by my great friend Dave O'Connor. I figured, given the content and name of the post, that a header pic of Hemingway fishing was appropriate. Dave likes short sentences and fearless writing so I'm sure Ernest wouldn't mind.
Our fears can vary between the socially humorous (like coulrophobia [look it up]) to the extreme; from the innocence of clutching cushions while watching a horror movie to the severity of overwhelming anxiety.
A closed mindset to my fears ensured a debilitating status in my development growing up. My frailties hinged on two very different occurrences which led to low mood, paranoia and mental torture.
- I was bullied in school due to my appearance and such was my ignorance (or more so my innocence) I accepted the torment as I thought that all ‘chubby’ kids were supposed to be picked on.
- In the middle of all this, aged 14, I was approached and manhandled by an armed, aggressive, stranger. I felt the steel of a needle pressed against my neck and was threatened with injection should I not hand over all belongings. The threat was very real.
The combined effect on an already nervous teenager was instant fear; a fear of people, and a corresponding fear of being alone.
The bullying took a gradual and delayed affect on my psyche, with anger and regret seeping out years later when I realised that the the treatment I received was wrong and that no child should suffer such undue attention.
The fear of self expression took hold but the outward showing of confidence and ambition was enough to hide any self doubt in character.
I feared friendship in case my views and opinions caused an argument and the loss of that friend.
I feared relationships, making attempts to buy happiness with girlfriends, suffering awkwardness in decisions and misunderstanding in conversation.
The feelings of loneliness and personal misunderstanding chained my liberation and forced isolation with mental torture in the form of verbal abuse while looking in the mirror.
The decline toward worthlessness and plans towards suicide brought the realisation that despite the hardships and knock backs, I had achieved much and was loved by so many.
The fear of failure measured by social inclusion/exclusion had rattled me for too long.
Determined to understand more I sought studies in human behaviour and psychology, taking in talks, books and videos on topics suited to my own development.
A change in my mindset towards fear allowed me to look at positive emotions. I accepted that all the greatest memories I had, all those great experiences, were created in spite of feelings of terror beforehand. Travelling the world alone; terrified. Playing in a cup final; terrified. Asking a girl out; terrified.
All emotions relating to fear and a desire to do well. If you’re nervous it’s fine, it shows you care!
I began to pay attention to what and who influenced me positively; putting me in a better frame of mind when the scary moments arose. I’d pockets of reference and inspiration to look back on that gave me confidence and belief.
Compassion became key in relating to others, accepting that I didn’t have one problem I had a thousand, and so did they.
Music and writing has helped steer my creativity in a positive way. I love The Stone Roses and The Jam but its the magnificent sounds of Hans Zimmer (famous for musical scores in films – Gladiator, Dark Knight, Interstellar) and Ludovico Einaudi (first discovered in a gloriously depressing musical montage in Shane Meadows’ This Is England) that steer my inspiration while writing.
I’ve explored the use of language and in sharing poetry and essays I have given everything when writing. I’ve found sincerity in my delivery which has stood as a liberating platform to embracing all that I misunderstood and all that I have embraced.
Nothing By Chance
One book which provoked thought in my endeavours was Nothing By Chance by Richard Bach (a book handed over by @inspirepod himself and admittedly never returned!)
There is a wonderful grace about this adventure story which in relation to my personal learnings left one quote with me:
“It’s not when you start that makes your success in life, but when you quit”
You can follow Dave's blog here.
You can check him out on twitter here.
You can buy the brilliant Nothing By Chance here or just ask Dave to give you my copy!