Defending My Life – Day Three of Facing My Fears


DAY THREE – Thwarted by Timing, Saved by Asking For Help

You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do. – Eleanor Roosevelt

Facing my fears has proven just as difficult as I imagined.   Within my social anxiety pantheon, the Zeus of them all is my fear of bureaucracy.  I state this fear as if it is a clinical diagnosis but I’ve not been diagnosed with this fear, it is a label I’ve applied to myself after years of dealing with institutions.  Of my fears, it is the one that has caused me the most problems.  Essentially, if I am being forced to deal with an institutional process that isn’t transparent to me, I seize up.  I go into avoidance mode.

Some critical examples of this include utility companies, credit card companies, any lawyer based entity, doctors, insurance companies, and certain government agencies.  Want to know something really weird?  I have no trepidation or anxiety dealing with the IRS.  I’ve always found them incredibly helpful and transparent.  Yes, sometimes you have to jump through several hoops repeatedly because they have inefficiencies, but their system is clear and they’ve always let me know exactly what I needed to do.  To me, they represent the ideal of a complex bureaucracy.

Today I was to tackle a bureaucracy – Comcast cable.  I am paying far too much for my cable for what I get out of it, and it would behoove me to reduce it to the most basic package they offer.  I was supposed to do this at lunch but timing failed me.  Doing it after work failed as well because my commute took nearly two hours today.

Did I have to eat rice for dinner?  Well, some may say I cheated today.  I do have another fear, the fear of asking people for stuff I want.  This fear relates directly to the fear of rejection.  What if I ask and people deny me?  What if by asking, I betray the fact that I care about something and people now know how to vex me?  Hey, are you sighing over my level of crazy?

I know it is stupid.  I do.  None of these fears are based on great wisdom.  They are based purely on my lack of courage.

Today a friend of mine entered a contest that requires people to vote for her application video.  I posted the generic plea on Twitter, Facebook, and Livejournal which are all essentially passive.  I’m really not putting myself on the line.  Something I would never do is ask my coworkers for anything like this.  I’d share a link to something funny but to actually ask them to take an action on my behalf just is beyond me.

So I wrote up the email and sent it to not just my immediate team but everyone that shares cubicles in the dank dark hallway they call office space.  I admit, I am still worried about a backlash. Though I don’t really think it will happen.

I think it is important to talk about the follow up of some of my previous efforts.  I walked into the coffee shop this morning and was greeted with a ‘Hello, Sean’ which when coupled with the fact she knows my order made the experience even better.  So facing my fears is improving my life, even if it is in just subtle ways.

By the end of this process I’m hoping to have collected a catalog of fear which I can use to guide me in the future, reminding me that fear isn’t something you defeat once but is something that is a constant battle.  A concern I have in this process is I will become more clever in coming up with reasons why I don’t do things that I am afraid of doing.

Published by Sean D. Francis

Sean D. Francis is a technologist, writer, and geek. He podcasts, makes video, and dabbles in all the geeky genres including horror, sci-fi, and fantasy.

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