Replace fear with curiosity

Vy Nguyen

All-consuming and paralyzing. 

Fear fills people with the dread of failure and regret, of complete and utter doubt that anything rewarding can possibly arise from the decision to try something new. 

But instead of allowing fear to seep into the human psyche and freeze every thought, fear can be replaced with a curiosity that urges people to question and learn, look beyond what they’ve always known and realize their full potential.

The sensory overload of unfamiliarity — new streets, new smells, new faces, new foods — can equip folks with the tools to see beyond the town they grew up in. 

When fear, however, convinces someone that the places around their bubble are “scary,” it limits the lens through which people can see the world. 

A boy from a small town in Nebraska, who loves fashion and design, could benefit from living in New York. And a student who is passionate about Spanish could benefit from studying abroad in Spain. The “can” or “could” cannot become a “would” or “will” until people make the radical choice of embracing their curiosity and nurturing the existing talents and passions that they have. 

More broadly, in an increasingly STEM-centric society that neglects the humanities, youth often fear choosing a career that is not “economically viable.” Whether it’s to appease external pressures from society or their own family, many students abandon the idea of exploring the field of study that they are most passionate about and, instead, opt for a financially stable career in STEM, regardless of whether they desire such a career or not. 

Not only does this fear curtail young talent, but it can also limit empathy. 

American society is more diverse than ever, but friend circles do not reflect this diversity. Most people prefer to only have friends that are the same as them because of the unconscious fear of people who are different. 

But the friendships between those with vastly different lived experiences can be one of the most fulfilling relationships that challenge preconceived notions and spur self-growth. 

When individuals replace fear with open-mindedness and curiosity, they can cultivate empathy and flourish in what makes them happy. And most importantly, they can broaden the lens with which they view their future, themselves, and other people — ultimately paving the path for an interconnected world where there’s a common understanding that, despite having differences, everyone’s shared humanity remains.