Is Fear Suffocating Your Potential? The Millennial Kryptonite

Editable vector silhouette of a man sitting with his head in his hand with background made using a gradient mesh
Editable vector silhouette of a man sitting with his head in his hand with background made using a gradient mesh

What does fear have to do with anything? The answer is everything.

Imagine for a moment. You have this amazing idea. No, not just amazing but an idea so exciting that it could possibly transform your life. An idea that if executed properly could even contain the seeds for your professional fulfillment. Imagine that, a life and a career that you would actually feel connected to or at the least content with. You daydream about this idea; you might even jot down a few ideas over coffee.

Then what? Suddenly, you become paralyzed with worry. Like still water, your momentum halts and your creative ambition becomes stagnant. One negative thought, one critique, or one apathetic reaction to your passion project and you become a mess.

Or, let's say, you meet someone. You like each other. Eventually, you might even think you love each other. The relationship starts out simple, or so you think. You feel totally cool, satisfied and in sync. You are both connected, but independent. All of a sudden comes the euphoria --those love chemicals dancing around in your system.

Then, like a bandage left on too long, you're ripped with the reality that you have fallen in love with this person. This is a beautiful stage, but it's tricky and entirely reliant on how self-aware you are. Because without self-awareness, you unknowingly invite fear into your relationship. Like the guest that never leaves, fear moves in and makes you question everyday: what if you lose this person you've grown to love? What was healthy --that rare connected, but independent bond-- starts to disintegrate as your insecurities uproot themselves like termites into the foundation of your love. This is the beginning of the end, unless you realize what is happening early on.

Now, to be fair, fear is a defense mechanism that serves a purpose. It may possibly prevent you from let's say, dangling yourself off a cliff or walking into some questionable situations. That is all fine and necessary for your ultimate survival. But, the truth is, too many of us confuse real fear with mental disillusions and emotional insecurities. And I know this not just because I have witnessed it happen to others, but because I have felt the depths of fear affect my own life.

For too long, I built up my aspirations, then talked myself out of them while I watched others fulfill their true goals. This would turn my normally enthusiastic nature into someone marinated with a bitter regret.

Millennials are especially susceptible to this fear as we face the realities of the world and mourn our childhood disillusions. We are exposed to more public criticism where our failures become magnetized, compassion makes us look weak and compromise is wishful thinking.

What is most frustrating is the paradox of our generation, because we live in a time where anything really is possible. We are a population of visionaries, creative minds, entrepreneurs and advocates who are reaching for the endless possibilities as we learn to stay grounded and are told to stay guarded. When fulfillment comes slow or not at all, we settle in disappointment.

Before anyone tries to slap the infamous labels on us by critiquing that Millennials are entitled or naïve, it helps to look at the root of our societal upbringing. We are the generation of "you can do, A+ for effort, and you are special" only to step into a world that reminds you "this is life, get used it, get over it, because no one cares about your problem."

We are aspiring to be adults at a time when our political structure is going through one of the greatest framework shifts, the economy is evolving into a startup take over, and we are told to believe in true love among a society of broken marriages. These are not excuses, but explanations of a foundation we must acknowledge in order to overcome.

Sure, there are entitled individuals among our generation. But if we are stuck with labels, I would say we are observant, a bit lost, and scared out of our minds as we try to catch up in a society that is changing rapidly every day.

So, look, fear is inevitable in our lives and absolutely necessary, because it makes us question how much we really believe in ourselves. In fact, overcoming our fear is the catalyst for some of our most rewarding experiences. My inner Disney fan girl believes that dreams still come true, but they require some magic called courage, determination, strategy and faith.

And of course, life will always be a little edgier and sweeter if you choose to live with an open heart. Time for all of us to move forward, my friends. We can do this together.