I’m writing a series related to palliative nurse Bronnie Ware’s 2009 viral post where she listed the Top 5 Regrets of the Dying.
Fear is something that I’ve written about before, and this third most common regret is really a manifestation of fear.
#3 I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
The Desire and Fear To Know and Be Known
Part of being human is the desire to be in community. To know others and be known by others. To love others and be loved by others.
But fears about what others may think, that they may scorn or even incite violence against you, are both real and justifiable.
This is especially pertinent in today’s social media world where haters and trolls can torment you. In schools, cyberbullies drive teen-agers to depression and suicide. In the world politics, both online and offline, hate seems to be the only thing people have in common.
It’s never fun to be attacked and feel compelled to defend oneself. But we all need the courage to speak our thoughts and feelings and accept criticism.
It’s only in this way that you can develop genuine relationships with people and find out if you click. Not everyone will accept you and your ideas. But some are out there will. Finding that rare kindred spirit makes those instances of vulnerability worthwhile.
The Courage to Find My Tribe
It took me a long time to overcome my fears to write a blog or to even talk about FI to others.
I definitely didn’t feel comfortable discussing it at work. Having been a manager myself, I know that managers prefer a candidate to be beholden to the company for their economic security (read: wage-slave). So I quietly labored, saved, and invested.
My family, especially my parents, came from a background of highly paid, hard working professionals. But they started with nothing. Trading their time (life energy) for money was something they did until they had no more life energy to give. Then their health failed them.
For them, the fact that I am not doing the same is a disaster.
Most friends and peers are high achieving professionals, with similar school and work backgrounds as myself. They have pursued a high earnings and high consumption lifestyle. This means they leave almost no cushion for a sudden layoff or large emergency expense.
We have less and less in common with them as times goes on. I don’t have car payments or mortgage payments. I can’t complain about the cost of private schools.
But I started this blog. I’m expressing a side of me that no one except for my wife has ever known existed. And I’m finding my tribe amongst all the naysayers. And I’m even starting to reach out to others in the FI community to share stories, challenges, and solutions.
But With Protection
But I still have fear, particularly around privacy. Once your identity is out there, there’s no turning back. In reality, the European Union’s “right to be forgotten” is a myth. This is because companies have to track you (i.e., remember you) in order to even know not to list your information and stop contacting you. And by now, we all know that it’s just a matter of time until those companies’ data is breached.
So I’ve chosen to use a pseudonym and alternate persona, “Adrian Doyle,” to have some measure of protection of my privacy.
Hopefully one day we can all develop a secret handshake!