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The Futility of Fear

  • The futility of fear

The following blog post was written by Tahira Ebrahim, Centre Liaison Officer at the Centre for Excellence in Immigrant and Intercultural Advancement. 

Have you ever been afraid of something until you tried it?  Have you ever faced a fear, only to question yourself later as to why you were ever apprehensive in the first place?

As we embark on a new year, we begin to make lists of things to do better and new things to try. Each resolution is a decision to no longer hesitate or fear the unknown. 

Fear guides so much of what we do or don’t do. Whether it’s a fear of success, a fear of failure, or a fear of discomfort, we gravitate towards what we know and shield ourselves from things outside of our comfort zone. 

How we engage with the world and the people around us runs parallel to this concept. Who we interact with and surround ourselves with is also very much guided by fear. It may be influenced simply by a fear of believing that you may have no connection to another, and that your lives and experiences may be so different that there could be no possible means of connection or resonance. 

Our fear of others, and the exoticizing of people we don’t know or understand, prevents us from seeing potentially valuable connections.  How do we do this in practice?  Try this minimally demanding suggestion:

Try learning about and connecting over the simple, unsensational aspects of people’s lives.

Try learning about and connecting over the simple, unsensational aspects of people’s lives.

The inherent value of learning about the lived stories of others cannot be discounted. However, when trying to find common ground, it often can be found in the everyday and common place details. Learning that people face the same struggles as you or find joy in the little successes as you do, can remove that feeling of fear and apprehension. Focusing on differences can keep people at a distance. 

While this strategy may feel a bit trivial, allow it to remind you that connecting with those that are different from you can be far more simple, accessible, and enjoyable than your fear may lead you to believe. We spend a great deal of time online within the realm of social media. We have become susceptible to believing that the narrow views of people’s lives, often more manufactured than accurate, are indicators of their lives in their entirety. Similarly, as we allow sensational stories to dominate our psyche and worldview, we assume that we have a full picture of the realities of others. In other words, fear, or False Evidence Appear Real, is really only a lens that we allow to distort our worldview.   

The first step to addressing any fear is, of course, to face it. At the Intercultural Centre, we encourage our campus community to expose themselves to difference, to engage in it, and grow from it. 

Looking for an opportunity to address something new and perhaps unknown?  Join us for Intercultural Week 2017: A Spotlight on Diversity and experience for yourself how understanding that which is different is not about overcoming fear, but opening yourself up to curiosity.   


Joline Magwood

A great message of encouraging people to face their fears and use these opportunities to learn something new.