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Three Great Fears

Posted Wednesday, July 23, 2008, at 11:18 AM

A prominent New York psychiatrist once declared that there were three basic human fears -- change, rejection and failure.

Having spent a life of change, rejection and failure, I tend to disagree. In fact, I'm probably an expert in these three areas.

Change isn't exactly frightening, but it sure is irritating.

I've had 52 different addresses, in 12 states.

In college, I majored in mathematics, trying to decide between architecture and geological engineering. I ended up in computer science instead.

I started my career as a computer programmer, only to be drafted into the US Army, where I helped bring the Vietnam Conflict to a draw.

I returned to my civilian job and later went back to college to get my Masters degree.

Subsequently, I bounced from one computer job to another, working my way up the managerial and salary ladder, until I finally became an independent contractor, where I bounced even more often between clients and assignments.

Along the way, I studied screenwriting and wrote three screenplays.

Somewhere along the line, I was married for six years.

Not long after I hit age 40, I quit the rat race and went off into the Arizona desert prospecting for gold for six years.

After that wore off, I wrote four novels, which were eventually published a few years later.

Then I did some more computer work during the Y2K era, followed by a stint with the 2000 US Census, started writing a newspaper column in 2001 and began teaching college computer courses the same year.

Next year, I may be a brain surgeon, rocket scientist or rodeo clown. I've had so many changes in my life, I have to stick notes on my refrigerator to keep track of who I am and what I'm suppose to be doing this week.

Change is more troublesome than scary. It's also a new challenge, a new start in life. Perfection will never be attained and the outcome is never certain, but often things can be changed for the better. If you can take a couple of steps forward for every step backward, you're on the right path.

Rejection isn't very frightening either. You have no idea how much rejection you can endure until you've written a few screenplays and novels. I have a stack of rejection slips that weighs more than a peck of pickled peppers.

But if you believe in yourself, you just keep moving forward with a positive attitude.

Nothing truly worth achieving ever comes easy.

Being rejected for your artistic expression by some unknown agent or publisher is one thing, but being rejected by someone you're attracted to is hard to take. There's nothing more humiliating than being seen as unworthy by someone you admire.

But I don't allow rejection to upset me; I just assume the other person is a tasteless idiot.

To fear failure is to fear life. You can't fail at something until you attempt to do something. And when you finally get up enough nerve to try and fall flat on your face, it usually means you've learned something.

You can't succeed without trying and almost everyone stumbles a few times along the way. The more you fail, the more you learn, and the closer you are to success.

Change, rejection and failure should be embraced, not feared. Confronting and overcoming fear is how we grow stronger. After all, suffering builds character.

I have my own set of fears. In no particular order, they include:

1) Women

2) Spiders and snakes

3) Women

4) The edge of a cliff

5) Women

I now reside alone, deep in the boondocks, far from cliffs. Four down and one to go.


Quote for the Day -- "Our greatest fear is the fear to be our true selves." Bret



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Boldly Going Nowhere
Bret Burquest
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Bret Burquest is a former award-winning columnist for The News (2001-2007) and author of four novels. He has lived in Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Miami, Atlanta, Kansas City, Memphis and the middle of the Arizona desert. After a life of blood, sweat and tears in big cities, he has finally found peace in northern Arkansas where he grows tomatoes, watches sunsets and occasionally shares the Secrets of the Universe (and beyond) with the rest of the world.
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