Xeno Hemlock


What You Look Like When You're Immobilised by Fear

Deep inside I knew I really wanted to. I would not meet up with the career mentor if I had no interest in what coaching could do to me in the first place. I told Suzy Roxas to give me a month before I committed to a decision. "But I will be back," I told her despite what I was thinking. I stepped out the door, headed to the elevator, and felt guilt about my incongruence. My mouth told her one thing but my mind thought another.

As I left the building, I still kept thinking about it. Thoughts ran rampant in my head: "Maybe you can just read books and online articles", "You're better spending your money on something else", "You have the passion already. Why do you need someone else to guide you when you already know what you want?" Justifications. Excuses. Or the best word to call it - fear.

Yes, I felt a lot of fear. I was very afraid. I was afraid of trying something new. I was afraid of stepping out of my comfort zone. I was afraid to be humbled and shown my flaws and weaknesses by someone else. I was afraid to admit I didn't know everything. I was afraid to take a risk. Simply put, I was afraid.

After one month, I went ahead with the program. It became the highlight of that year. Halfway through the coaching, I already knew I made the right decision. I felt good, I changed, and, slowly, fear was losing its battle against me. 

What helped me make the decision to ignore my fear and to work with Suzy was a picture. Here it is:


The picture above illustrates this thought. "Xeno, you want to work with Suzy but you are afraid for a few reasons. You have two courses of action: hesitate or go. If you hesitate, you will always be afraid. If you go, you will grow as a person. What do you want?" 

Of course, I wanted to grow as person. And I know you want to grow as a person too. After all, how can you do greater things if you don't grow. And I know you don't wish to be afraid forever.

The illustration above is called a Deterministic Finite Automaton (DFA). In theoretical computer science, a DFA is a finite state machine that accepts a string of symbols and produces a unique computation. It is used in illustrating computer problems and producing the outcome. (I taught this subject when I was a teacher in college.)

The circles are states, in computer science and in our lives. You can write hungry, happy, sad, or tired inside the circles. The arrows represent input symbols or in our lives the actions we make. You can write eat, sing, cry, or sleep next to those arrows.

What about the arrow without a label and the double circle? The arrow with no label indicates the starting point, where we are presently at our lives. The double circle represents the final state, where we want to go with our lives, the destination we want.

If I kept on hesitating I would be stuck in the 'afraid' circle, infinitely looping back at the same spot. No movement. No progress. No growth. That is exactly what you also look like when you're immobilised by fear, an entity looping back in the same circle.

I spent many years of my life afraid of making my own decisions, speaking out, taking risks, and pursuing my dream. I spent many years of my life stuck. I aged. I visited different cities and countries. But there I was, imprisoned in the same circle. 

Not anymore.

If it feels good moving from the starting circle to the double circle, imagine what it's like moving from a double circle to another double circle.


Whenever you battle fear and move to another circle, a new challenge will be presented to you. From there, your double circle becomes a starting circle again and you have two choices: hesitate or go. Do you want to remain where you are? Then hesitate. Do you want to move and make progress? Then go to the next circle!

Ever since working with Suzy, I became more courageous in facing my fears. I stopped hiring the services of a personal trainer and began working out on my own and gained new friends in the process. I became more confident in reaching out to people on the same mission as me. I became more active in asking other people's help despite the possibility of rejection. I became more curious in seeking out things I did not know yet despite the possibility of them unlike that of my beliefs. There are so many things in life to discover and attain when we don't let fear immobilise us, I learned.

From now on, whenever fear tries to immobilise you, remember that you must go! If you hesitate, you will get stuck, looping back at the same circle. 

Do you want that to happen to you? I bet not.

Picture the image of you moving from one circle to another, conquering new things and moving along. The path is infinite; there are many circles to get on.


DFA = Don't Fear Anything.