A letter from my fearful self

Dear Selina,

I’ve warned you before, and I will warn you again: what you’re currently doing is utterly irresponsible.

I don’t know how many times I have to ring the internal alarm bell. (Clearly the bell is broken because I’ve pressed it so many times and seems like you didn’t hear them!) How many times do I have to wake you up in the middle of the night with anxious thoughts, racing heartbeats and sweaty palms before you’ll finally listen to me.

It’s as if you still haven’t grown up and are refusing to open your eyes to the harsh reality of the world. When will you admit that all these gallivanting and experimenting and swimming against the current are nothing but a long rebellious streak, not a purposeful life choice.

You’ve already made your point plenty of times. You are different from the rest. You don’t walk with the pack. Yada, yada, yada. It’s your thing to choose the less traveled road, and I get it.

I really do.

You like the challenge, the feeling that you’re doing something unique and different from what your peers are doing. I just don’t understand why you keep doing it? Is it to satisfy your ego? Don’t you remember high school? Most of your classmates pick English or French for their second language (read: something useful), and you picked German. Bist du verrückt? It’s totally useless except maybe for the few times you had a short layover in Germany.

And what about college? All your friends picked practical majors like econs and maths, and you picked Earth & Environmental Science plus another obscure and really difficult major that sank your GPA. I thought you’d sober up after college and pick a normal career like consulting, instead you became an ocean surveyor. Ha! Sitting in that boat for 8 hours a day babysitting the zigzagging sonar.

Remember that? The despair? The crushing feeling that life is passing you by? What a joke! Need I remind you how long it took you to “catch up” with your peers?

For goodness’ sake, Selina. I get it. You like to be different. I know it, you know it, everyone knows it. But now that we’ve established that, and you’ve had your fun, can we PUHLEASE GET ON WITH THE PROGRAM?

You know, the program where you do what other sane, normal adults do. Continue on your career path, get those titles, those promotions, pick a city to settle down in, have kids, buy a house, grow your 401(k), etc etc etc. I don’t care what order you do them in as long as those boxes are checked, because they’re not going to happen by themselves, are they? And you’re going the opposite way, undoing everything you’ve worked hard to achieve.

Ponte City Apartments, Johannesburg

Child, you are driving me sick with anxiety right now. The reckless way that you think you can just do whatever you want and expect to end up happy vs. in a ditch.

I know you don’t believe me, but all I want is for you to be safe and happy. And I can’t see how the path you’re on right now will lead to anything good. Maybe by some miracle, and you know I don’t believe in miracle. So I think you’re being foolish, and bloody arrogant for thinking that you are so f-in special that you can carve your own path in this wilderness and succeed.

Take the business venture for example. Do you know how many people have tried solving the problem you’re trying to solve? Do you know how many sleep scientists have researched the conditions and come away emptyhanded? What makes you think you’ll succeed where others have failed? How can you sleep at night knowing that there’s 9 in 10 chances that you’ll fail? Yes, that’s the statistics alright. 90% of start-ups fail.

What is wrong with you? Why can’t you just be normal for once and do what others do. Get a job, get paid every two weeks, save up, retire when you’re 65. What about it is so hard to follow?

Don’t you know that it’s a dangerous world out there? People are starving, dying, depressed, sick, and miserable. And you know what the biggest source of misery is? Poverty. You know, the situation where you can’t get what you want. You know what that’s like, don’t you? You’ve worked so hard all your lives specifically so you don’t have to experience poverty again. So why are you being reckless and risking the comfortable life you’ve built up?

To be honest, I’m actually quite surprised that you’ve lasted this long with this whole not-working thing. I thought you would’ve given up a long time ago, when you realized you need money to feed your habit of eating out in good restaurants, having nice shoes & clothes, traveling in style. Well guess what, my dear, you can get all those back once we get on with the program. Yes??

And shall I remind you that failing kinda sucks? It’s embarassing. It’s painful. Better to cut your losses and admit your mediocrity now. Pack your bags and go back to your life before. You said it yourself, it was a nice, comfortable life. Why not go back to it?

Once again, I’m begging you, quit dicking around, grow the fuck up, and let’s get on with the previous program. OK?

Sincerely (and fearfully) yours,

Your fearful self

Behind the rain clouds (Etosha, Namibia)

Dear My Fearful Self,

Thanks for looking out for me. I’ll be okay. 🙂

Success and failure are integral parts of life. So are fear and uncertainty. The knowing and not knowing.

I’m going to hang out in this liminal space for a while. You’re always welcome to visit any time.

Love you,



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