Six years ago, I wrote about 10 things that scare me. Since then, I’ve overcome many of those fears and have adopted new ones, so I think it’s time I updated my list. Here it is: 10 things that intimidate or otherwise worry me at this point in my life:
- Writing a book. Thanks to blogging and an insatiable curiosity, I’m a self-made writer. Since 2005, I’ve written tens of thousands of posts. I’ve also written hundreds of 800-6000 word feature stories, and thousands of pages of special reports, columns, product reviews, opinion pieces and analysis. And yet, writing a 10 chapter book seems so daunting to me. Go figure. It’s probably because the required focus conflicts with my ADA more than a writing project that typically lasts no more than a half day to a couple of weeks. Nevertheless, it’s my biggest professional fear.
- Fatherhood: Comparing my children. Anyone with more than one child knows exactly how tempting this can be. Since mated genes are so complex, our offspring are wired in completely different ways. So when one child fails at something that comes easy to another, parents might unfairly ask, “What can’t you be more like so-so?” Few things are more detrimental to a child’s confidence than this. It’s horrible. I struggle with it. To make matters worse, it’s sobering to realize that parents sometimes get along with and relate more to one child over another. You love them equally. But favorites further cloud the issue of unfairly comparing siblings.
- Conventional thinking. I pride myself on being different. For example, my family owns a single car. I rent instead of mortgaging my house. I’m a minimalist. I work from home. “My way,” is my favorite Sinatra song. “Everything you do is unconventional,” my wife says. My sense of fashion included: Never out of style, but never all in either. I’d like to think of myself as one-of-a-kind, to which my wife responds, “that’s not always a good thing.” In truth, unconventional thinking dictates most of my life. As I see it, conventional thinking is guilty until proven innocent. I want my tombstone to read: “An all-around swell guy, this man marched to the beat of a different drummer, and what a beat it was!”
- Helping my kids identify and develop talents. Exposing children to new things is difficult to balance. At least while maintaining existing talents and instituting liberal amounts of free time to let them explore thoughts, imagination, physics, life, existence, and ideas on their own. An even greater challenge is helping them identify and become who they really are, as opposed to what they think they should be (or think their parents, society, or culture encourages them to be).
- Tragedy beyond my control. I didn’t worry about this before. But with a growing and omnipresent list of dependents, I worry about this now. I’d like to think it’s futile. But I obviously haven’t figured that out yet, since I still worry about hypothetical “acts of god,” as lawyers call it. So even when the sun is shining bright, sometimes I ponder “what if” scenarios involving my wife and kids. Like a coward.
- Hating God if and when the above happens. Although I consider myself a devout man, I don’t think my faith has been tested as much as those who’ve suffered tragic loss or circumstance. When I overhear people talk about trials, I feel sheepish because my life has so far been devoid of tragedy. I don’t wish it upon myself or anyone else. But I do wonder. And I pray I’ll have the requisite faith to avoid becoming calloused if and when my tempest hits.
- Gluttony. One of my greatest accomplishments last year was learning to cook and adopting a sustainable diet (I finally love veggies, Internet!). But I miss the naivete of putting whatever and however much I want into my body. Although I enjoy my diet more than ever, once you turn to healthier foods, your body is put on and stays on high alert at all times. And so you worry about indulging more than you used to. Worth the worry. But a nascent worry, nonetheless.
- Being self-righteous. This is something I’ve always struggled with. Understandably, it annoys the devil out of those around me. But believe it or not, I, like fellow idealists, usually don’t make a conscious effort to be self-righteous. More often than not, I recognize a dumb or otherwise holier-than-thou remark the second it leaves my lips. It’s inborn. And I have to combat it constantly, which is an endless worry for me.
- Personal development. I’d like to learn French, sailing, and piano, but have done absolutely nothing to achieve these goals beyond marking them in my calendar, only to blow them off every time they pop up. I’m really good at developing hobbies. But I’m lousy at developing personal, non-professional talents that will make me more interesting, cultured, and wise.
- Complacency. How can you be thankful for what you have while still aspiring to be more than you are? What’s the optimal level of ambition before becoming a prick? I’m still trying to crack this nut and suspect it’ll be a life-long endeavor.
Readers, what are you afraid of?