The Scariest Four Letters

I miss the days when my biggest fears were not getting thirty or more notes on an edit I made on Tumblr, or not seeing my crush walk by my locker before fourth period. Mind you, I was fourteen at the time, so my fears don’t seem so scary now. I’m seventeen now; I haven’t posted on Tumblr in over a year and it’s been almost two years since I’ve had any feelings for that crush. Fear is a four letter word that I’ve spent most of high school trying to detach myself from, but sometimes it’s not so easy.

I fear publishing editorials that are too specific to what I truly am feeling or what I’ve experienced, because I fear people from high school discovering my writing online. I fear opening my college admission letters in front of people, because I know I will most likely end up crying, regardless of the result. In my freshman year, I feared joining a sports team. I feared talking to him because I thought it would be too obvious I liked him, but now we just don’t talk anymore. And despite many people telling me that I appear to be completely apathetic towards the world with my resting bitch face, I fear judgment from those around me. I make self-deprecating jokes about not getting accepted into colleges, and about myself, but it’s different when I hear those same words coming from others. When I hear it from them, a sense of panic washes over me, making me feel as if I’m destined for a grim future, despite the fact that I myself always joke about having a grim future. It’s as if I’m realizing, Oh god, someone else believes Im not destined to be great. My fears coming to life would feature me confronting the fact that maybe it’s not all in my head, maybe the worst parts of me actually are real.

You’re probably wondering why I bother to spend time with people who judge my every move. I’m still working up the courage to understand the answer to that question. Whenever I hear snide remarks about my desire to pursue a creative career, it takes a few seconds to recover. The immediate reaction is betrayal – how can these ‘friends’ who say they support everything I do, also be the ones that try to tear me apart from following my passion? Do comments about ‘unemployment’ or remarks like, “your only career option is teaching” have the power to derail me from giving up on a future that makes me happy? I try to compose myself and to remind myself that it’s my future and I will most likely never see these judgmental people after graduation ever again. Judgment from others about my interests – academically and personally – has suppressed my ability to open up about who I am and what I love. I’m trying my best to undo this.

I never thought that my passions could end up being one of my biggest insecurities, due to the criticism of those who cannot respect me for who I am and what I love. I love imperial Russian history and I love Björk and Jamie xx. I love boys who are wittier than I could ever imagine. I can’t wait to take printmaking and media classes in college. I want to fully dive headfirst in and experience what the world has to offer. I want to unafraid to shamelessly flirt with boys beyond a smile or gaze; I want to be able to confront my enemies with words that can be interpreted through a simple middle finger gesture. As schmaltzy as it may be, I know now that fear isn’t the worst thing in the world. Sure, it’s hard to jump headfirst into something I want to do but am scared, but nothing beats the feeling of achieving something that I originally was afraid to do.


Written by: Irine Le

Instagram (@irlirine)

Cargo Collective portfolio @irine_le

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