Fear of the ‘New’

I am taking my son to the pool today.

He is 2 years old. We have been a few times but not enough for him to love it and immediately jump in. It is still new to him. You see, he loves the water until he is actually about to get in. What happens? He gets so excited about the idea of being in the water but when he actually gets to the pool he becomes unsure. The closer he gets, the more insecure he becomes. He gets scared at first.

The Fear of the ‘Unfamiliar’

My guess is that his initial fear exist as a result of not regularly and routinely being in the pool, wading around in waste-deep water. Sure he gets in the tub and he loves his bath, but he is familiar with that place.


In the pool, since he is not completely comfortable, he reaches out in tears for me. I support him. I slowly take my time to guide him in the water. The magic is that once I get him in, after a short while he is comfortable. He knows when he is ready, and all of a sudden plays as if nothing were wrong.

Trying and Doing Something New

IMG 3653 e1276866198451 225x300 Fear of the Unfamiliar

The same can be said for a new activity, us learning a new skill or taking a different approach. It is at first outside the realm of what we know. It is not what we are use to. That small wave of fear comes to us. But if we are one of the few lucky enough to have support (as well as be that support to others who face the same situation) then that fear can subside.

A manager asks us to deal with a difficult employee review, recruiting for a difficult role, a new piece of legislation that no one has ever implemented in the work place, or we start a new role with a new team and a new culture. This, at first, is always scary and unfamiliar. But if we have support from our team, after we gain our footing, get our ground and become level in our own minds - the confidence we did not think was there begins to build. The fear, it dissolves. Until the next fear of the unfamiliar appears…

It’s just like math

I tell a story to students and program participants I have helped learn in the past.

This is as simple as math. When in high school, not all of us were good at math. We started out with the basics and were unfamiliar. Unsure of the right answers to the problems. But once we learned the basics, the answers came to us. After we became familiar it was easier. And then comes algebra… and geometry… and statistics… We get scared again and start over. The thing is - it gets easier if we work at it.

If you are lucky enough to have support, can get past the initial fear and thought of your inability to do that thing you will repeatedly do in the future, that fear slowly dissolves… until the next unfamiliar moment comes.

You could say you’re scared. My son is scared… he is 2 years old. He’s still scared of sand at the beach.

I guess no matter what age we reach, the fear is still the same.

How many of you get fearful when you are asked to change? When asked to do something you are unfamiliar with? Please leave a comment with your story. I would love to hear it!

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