Sunday, 16 February 2014

Your Greatest Fear Can Be Your Most Powerful Motivation

So this might initially seem like a negative and rather morbid post, but please bare with me lovely readers, because sometimes the most important part of negativity is being able to see the beauty in it.


After a quite bland week of feeling pretty grey, uninspired and unmotivated, one earth-shatteringly profound thought struck me mid-shower, and has made me realise something very deep and somewhat haunting. 

It's something that has been tinkering around my mind for months, but I've never been quite able to pull it forward into the light to see what it actually is.

But now I've got it.

The way I live my life and all the things that I do, are sub-consciously driven by my two greatest fears: 

Death and Regret.

Okay, so I know this sounds a little heavy and depressing for a Sunday afternoon, but let me give you some context. 

A couple of months ago, something happened, something that was entirely irrelevant to me, but for some reason it seriously hit home. 

One of my oldest friend works in Starbucks in my hometown, with a few of our mutual friends and her boyfriend. Her manager, for this example let's call him 'Jack', is 23 and happens to be her best friend's older brother, who also happens to live next door to her. So it's a very relaxed, tight-knit, family affair. 

One evening, she is closing up shop with Jack. They finish work, he drives them back home and they part ways with a smile and a cheery 'See you tomorrow!'. A completely average and unremarkable day in both of their lives. She goes to bed.

In a few hours she is awoken by a frantic pounding at the door at dawn, and bundles downstairs to find her best friend, Jack's little sister, inconsolably howling on her doorstep. 

Jack is dead.

At 23, there was no drug or alcohol abuse, no mental health problems or self harm, he did not take his own life, he did not have an accident or hit his head, he was in perfect health and the most normal guy you could ever meet. And at some point during that night, as he slept, his life just... stopped. 

The coroners later attributed the death to 'Sudden Adult Death Syndrome', or in other words, 'No-one Knows Why, He Just Suddenly Died.'

And although this sounds kinda selfish, as obviously there were those around him that his passing has affected a lot more, I can not TELL you how much this fucked me up.

Did he know? Before he went to bed did he feel a little bit sick or have a peculiar kind of headache? Did he have plans of stuff he was going to do next week, holiday plans, dates lined up, dreams to achieve? When he was at work, was there a little part of him in the back of his mind that knew this was the last time he'd ever be there, his last glimpse of daylight as a human on planet earth? Was he dreaming before he died? After he died... did he continue dreaming?

He was 23, and I am 21.

And he just... died.

I think it's natural for every human to have some form of fascination, phobia or curiosity about death, but since then, it has grown infinitely stronger for me. 

But it's not death itself that I fear, it's dying before I'm ready to go. Dying before I've done all the things that I want to do. Dying with regrets. And just as with death, regret has become a very important factor in my life.

I have come to the conclusion that there are two types of regret: the regret of not doing something and never knowing the outcome, and the regret of doing something and regretting the outcome. 

For me, the latter doesn't exist. For me, regret only comes from not seizing the opportunity to satisfy your intellectual and spiritual curiosity, and subsequently never knowing.

For me, regret only comes from an opportunity lost, never from an experience gained.

(Important: I'm talking in a vague sense here, but I do not mean it to be generalisable to everything in the world like illegal or harmful things)

'So where is this so-called positivty?!' I hear you yell.  

But that's just it.

Fearing death, which seems like the negative here, is one of the most powerful positives in the existence of life.

Because I fear death and regret, I refuse to live with any whilst I'm alive.

I try and seize every single day and live the shit out of it, go on ridiculous adventures, seek out amazing and wonderful people and travel the world as much as I can. I want to connect with people across the globe, collaborate and create wonderful things, and try not to let an idle moment slip by. I try and experience as many places, feelings and things as I can and feed them back to people through my stories, as I sure as hell have a lot of them.

I guess, however dreadfully morbid and depressing this sounds, I live by this little motto I formulated:

'To find true happiness in life, you must live by the notion that if you were to die tomorrow, then there wouldn't be a single thing you would have done differently.'

And if you can't say that right now, write down a list of things that you would regret if god forbid your time should be up, and treat it like your to do list. Because there's no way that any of us will ever know how much sand is left the little hourglasses with our names on.
So I suppose overall, I've never been a religious person but I seem to live the present as if I'm actually in the future and I'm looking back. 

Almost like I've lived my life once already, carelessly taking things for granted, wasting my precious, fleeting time and ended with nothing but regrets, but now I've been given the chance to do it again and make sure I don't have a single one.

But mostly I think I'm just a 21 year-old who thinks to much.

But the message is still there, if you can realise and understand your greatest fears, you can refuse to let them conquer you, and they can be your most powerful motivations. Then there will never again be a day of your life, that you'll ever need to live in regret.



  1. I relate with this article so much, I'm 20 and yet I'm absolutely terrified that my life might be cut short before I've managed to achieve anything I've wanted. I've been reading through your posts in the past few days, and although if I'm being completely honest, I found the first post I read arrogant at first, I read back over it again and I actually think I understand how you're feeling. Before getting to this post but after reading others, I decided to create my own blog, as it's something I've wanted to do for a good two years now, but anxiety and fear always had a hold on me.

    So I guess what I'm trying to say is thank you. Thank you for motivating me to get started on something that I know will be an achievement for me, after years of feeling useless and achieving what in my eyes feels like nothing. I am still nervous about no one enjoying my writing, or taking a long time to find my own style and creativity, but I know that it is there, and I will find it!

    1. Thank you so so much, not only for your comment but for your honesty.

      Just out of interest, was the arrogance in reference to my first post on here or the first post of mine that you read?

      I definitely think you've touched on something important here, I think that there's a line that is often misconstrued between saying that you believe that you as a person are amazing and unqiue and saying you as a person are more amazing and unique than everyone else (just for reference I'm aiming for the first one!) I can't thank you enough for thinking that then carrying on reading though haha :)

      It's awesome to hear that you've began on a path of something that you really want to do! I'd love to take a look at it at some point if that's cool? Send me some links and I'll check it out :)

      Thank you so much, for such a multitude of things x

    2. You're so welcome! I'm so glad you took it the right way. :)

      If I'm honest I read about ten posts in a row (never come across a blog written like a story before), so I can't remember which one exactly but I realised what you were trying to say pretty quickly! Exactly, I completely agree with that! But I would definitely say that you've done a good job in making it clear you believe in the first view you mentioned! In all honesty, it's a view to aspire to. Why should we be constantly beating ourselves up and never trying, when we could be doing things with our lives!

      It's pretty exciting, my blog is Imogen Scribbles but it's very, very new so there is a lot of improvement to be made! I literally created it last week haha! I'm incredibly open to any criticism though so it'd be great if you had a look!

  2. Wow! It wasn't a morbid post at all. I understand what you're saying.
    I haven't really sat down and thought about my fears, but if I did I'm sure I would come to great realizations.
    I love your quote that you've come up with. It is truly something to live by.

    Kendwy @ MindofKiwi

    1. Thanks so much Kendwy! I think one of the most important things in life is to truly recognise and understand what scares you the most, and then use that to make sure it doesn't happen x

  3. I can definitely relate to this, I've been some what 'fascinated' by death since I was really little, I used to ask questions all the time because I could never quite fathom how you can be perfectly fine and present one minute, then gone then next. My mum actually used to call me 'Wednesday Adams' which I find pretty hilarious. But in all seriousness, It still terrifies me today, I'm always thinking about what would happen if I just died right now.. and in all honesty I probably would have some regrets as there's so many things I haven't done and want to do.. Its so easy to let hours, days and weeks pass you by without you doing anything particularly significant. This has definitely been a bit of a wake up call to make me realise I need to get my arse in gear!

    Ash xx

  4. I came across your blog as a result of your shortlist in the UK blog awards - congratulations, by the way! - and this post really got to me. As others have said below, I don't think it's particularly morbid. In fact, it's all the more vibrant because you've touched upon how desperately we all cling to the things we want to do in life. Some nights I can't sleep because I'm terrified of death - as you said, of not accomplishing what I wanted to yet - and my heart beats extra fast in response, going "LIFE! LIFE! LIFE!" Sorry, that was a bit wanky. I hope it conveys what I'm trying to say though. This post is both relatable and inspirational, so thank you very much for that :) xx

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