What will people say?

“woman peeking over green leaf plant taken at daytime” by Drew Graham on Unsplash

There are those occasions when we think of new ideas and things to do but we end up not acting upon them. This is most likely due to the most common question majority of us, I included, always ask ourselves and use as an excuse: “What will people say?”

The most contributing factor to the above question is fear. Fear of how people in the society will perceive us. Fear of being judged for who we are or for trying something new. Fear due to imposter syndrome. Fear resulting from the culture we grew up in. I.e. if you grew up in a family where failure was frowned upon and talked about all the time, while success was swept under the carpet as something normal, you will be afraid of failures. And the list goes on.

Each one of us is afraid of something in life or we may have something that we are not confident in. However, this should not define who we are as it is what makes us human. We all have an opportunity to improve and overcome some, if not all, of our fears. I have been able to manage my fears by applying the listed tips.

  1. Accept that people will always talk about you. An acquaintance once told me: “If people don’t talk about you, then know you have a problem and no presence.” Therefore, accepting that people will always have something to say about you, be it in a negative or positive way, is a first step towards managing your fears.
  2. Embrace the fear and build confidence in yourself. If you fear people talking about you because of your skills, accept it and read more to increase your knowledge. You can also get a mentor to help you in levelling your skills. This way, you’ll get to build your confidence and overcome your fear.
  3. Understand that perfection is just a dream. If you fear to execute your ideas because of perfection, then just stop it. Everyone has weaknesses and faults. Even famous people that you look up to in society have weaknesses. Therefore, understanding that you will not be perfect in your field of expertise will help you manage your fear.
  4. Talk to someone. If you fear that you are not knowledgeable enough in your field of expertise, talk to someone you are close to or even your colleagues. You’ll be surprised at how many good things they have to say about you as a person, your skills, etc. Try it. It may just be what you need to give you the final push to overcome your fear. I tried it and it helped me to manage some of my fears.
  5. Accept failure as part of life. No matter which stage of life we are at, we all have failed at something and there is still a probability that we will fail in the future. Taking failures as learning opportunities to improve ourselves will help us overcome the fear of failure. However, if we wallow in the misery of failure, then we’ll continue fearing it and never take that first step towards achieving our goals and dreams.
  6. Self-care. One of the things which have helped me manage my fears is focussing on self-care. Meditating, doing stretches or short exercises before the start of my day, etc, has helped me be more positive in life. And when I realize I need a break, I take a short vacation to reset myself by “unplugging” from the internet.

A bonus tip on managing fears that I haven’t had a chance to apply yet is filtering criticisms. You need to develop an art of filtering helpful criticisms that will help your development from the unhelpful ones. If a criticism is intended to pull you down instead of pointing ways you could have done something better, just ignore it. And remember that not everyone will like your idea or what you are doing.

Are you afraid that people will not be interested in the article you have had the itch to write about in the last 6 months, and that they’ll find it dumb? Write that article and publish it for people to read and give their feedback. You’ll be able to gauge the reception people have about your article and areas to improve on.

Are you worried that an article you plan to publish is not well written? Use grammar apps such as “Grammarly” to help you construct your sentences and fix your grammatical errors. Get feedback from friends or colleagues before publishing the article.

What else is keeping you from acting on your idea? If it is fear, brace yourself and “Just do it!” It is easier to continue working on an idea once you have taken the first step towards implementing it. Be confident in yourself!

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