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Friday, September 2, 2011

Confessions of a beta male IX: Fears

One thing that distinguishes betas is the number of phobias that bedevil them.

As a beta, I have the full complement: snakes, spiders, swimming in the ocean, public speaking, flying, rejection, failure, etc.

The worst of these fears may be stage fright. Much of performance anxiety actually boils down to the fear of fear. There are things you might be able to do in private perfectly easily, like speak, but somehow the idea of speaking to a hundred people is terrifying. You don't want to appear nervous in front of all those you get nervous about appearing nervous.

Yeah, that makes sense.

But in fact that fear is fairly universal. Singers, musicians, and athletes feel it as well.

An alpha tends to regard such fears as silly: why be nervous about talking? You do that all the time. Compete in a race with lots of people watching? I can't wait.

Much of alpha vs. beta character can be summarized by the difference between eager anticipation and dread.

When I was young, my heart rate would go over 100 beats per minute as early as four hours before a swimming event. (I challenge anyone to beat that.)

An alpha sails happily through life, thinking, it's all good. I have recently realized that as a beta, my guiding philosophy seems to be, it's all bad.

In a sense, the curse of a beta's life is that he thinks ahead too much. An alpha is more inclined to live in the moment.

An alpha doesn't needlessly complicate things: fun is fun, period. I am a world class expert at not enjoying occasions that are supposed to be fun.

Here's another succinct summary of the gap: an alpha drinks for the euphoria it brings, a beta drinks to gain courage, or to numb himself.

It is said that true courage consists not in the absence of fear, but in facing up to those fears. Thus someone like me has ample opportunity to demonstrate courage. It has occurred to me that parachuting would show incredible courage on my part. But that's as far as I've gone with that: have the thought flicker briefly through my brain. I do have a convenient excuse, though: at age 57, my heart might look at that long distance down to earth and just decide to stop beating.

An alpha facing up to a fear would probably just calm himself with thought that everyone else in that situation is equally fearful.

That might work for me.

If I had about a fifth of Scotch in my belly.

As a true beta, it's easier for me to list the phobias I don't have: fear of open spaces, and fear of tests. I have never had those. So all of the scorn which I would be able to heap on those who have other fears I don't, I can't, because I have those fears myself. So I must concentrate all my scorn and condescension on people with those two fears.

Whatsamatter, nervous about a little test? You pathetic chicken!!! What? It scares you to even go outside? You sniveling little worm!!

(Ah, that felt good.) 

Oh, I forgot, there's another fear I don't have: fear of making a fool of myself.

Hence this blog.

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