Fear Is The Worst – Part 1 (A First Example)

June 17, 2013

Fear no evil monkeysI mentioned in my first post regarding Lean In that, “For the most part, I was not afraid of power growing up.” I thought I’d elaborate on that whole “for the most part” bit.

I can think of two instances in high school when I regretted being afraid.


We logged our theater hours. And, we thought the highest honor you could officially achieve (through the International Thespian Society) was Honor Thespian (at 600 hours). (By the way, I looked that up. You actually could go all the way up to International Honor Thespian for 1,800 hours.) (We didn’t pay much attention to the official rules or the International Thespian Society, ’cause we were kind of doing our own thing.)

Anyway, we had made up this rank called Century Thespian for 1,000 hours. My sophomore year, we had to make up a whole new rank – Double Century because a handful of people got 2,000 hours. (I greatly looked up the people in that senior class.)

My junior year, one person got Triple Century. And then came time for my senior year. I was at well over 3,000 hours. In the second half of the year, I felt had to make a decision – bang out those last couple hundred hours, or kind of start to fade out (while letting others’ crescendo in).

(My theater teacher almost forced me to stop doing as much work my senior year. “We’re not gonna have you much longer. We have to get used to this!” Yeah, yeah, yeah. I was awesome in high school. I’m not about to downplay that!)

When a couple people from the senior class of my sophomore year got wind that someone might become a Quadruple Century, some discouraged me from doing it. “Oh, that’s just ridiculous!” But, objectively, what made my needing to create a new level so different from when they wanted to do it?

The only people who were telling me that were people still kind of in the high school scene, sort of living vicariously through high school at that point. (I can’t blame them. That program was hard to leave. And I obviously still talk about how great it was/I felt in it.)

So, I think it was more of them not wanting to be outshined by two whole levels in only two years. (But, who knows? Maybe they really did just think the whole thing was silly and ridiculous after growing up for two more years, and I’m just reading too much into it.)

Add their thoughts/comments to the fact that no one else in my class had even reached Century… I just felt that it was going to be kind of reaching out too far to say “Well, the second place hours person is a Double, and the top person is a Quadruple.”

I called myself the first female Triple Century, which was ridiculous, because why am I trying to manufacture a win, when I’m not really winning? (Because I wanted to win so badly, but not make too many waves – especially with the people from the earlier class whom I so deeply respected.)

Not long after I graduated, someone I went to high school with became the first Quadruple – without apology, without hesitation. He did it with pride, and it could’ve been me.

I know it’s silly, because it’s just some made-up label in high school. But, I will always regret that I ever let anybody talk me down from an accomplishment.

People of the world: No matter how much you accomplish, it is not too much. Let me repeat that. It is not too much.

If other people around you aren’t doing something, or haven’t done something yet, you are not the one messing up for being the odd man out, for going beyond, for achieving.

There is no limit to what you can achieve.

Depending on reactions you get, it might be uncomfortable to achieve a lot, but it is not wrong.

Take pride. Take what you deserve. And never take second best. As my favorite quote from Talladega Nights says – “If you’re not first, you’re last.”

I’ll pick up tomorrow with my second regret.

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