Last night I met a guy in a local tavern, and we got to talking as two might over a malted beverage or two. He, like me, wasn't from here, and as the saying goes, it's sometimes easier to talk to a bartender than your doctor. I wasn't the bartender, but I was there.
In ruminating over the convo while tossing and turning (& not sleeping, but that's a different story) in the hotel room later in the night, I compared him to another person I know. The comparison is interesting. We'll call the first person Doug, and the second person Gail. Their names are irrelevant (I'd go with Obediah and Ophelia, but those are more difficult to type), and I don't think gender plays a roll in the comparison, they just happen to be on opposite side of the chromosomal fence. Please note that all the comparators are my observations and opinions, and may bear no resemblance to reality other than superficial.
Both are close enough in age to make no difference.
One was raised in a reasonably strict household with both parents, dinner on the table at 6, everyone there. The other came from a family where the person was almost the primary care giver in the house from an early age.
One worked early in life and didn't have extended education opportunities. The other went to college.
One has a "respectable" job/career. The other, less so. Both appear to feel trapped by work/life in some way (like who doesn't).
Both have kids - roughly the same age.
Both enjoy athletic activities.
One is more adept at "arty" stuff, the other, less so.
Here's where it gets interesting. While talking with Doug, I got the impression he wants to "expand his horizons" but has a fear of failure and embarrassment. He only wants to appear to be good at whatever it is he does. Doing something badly - especially in public - was petrifying to him. So much so, that he admitted he has stopped trying. So he is frozen: stuck where he doesn't want to be, and unable (unwilling?) to do what might break the inertia.
I compared his state (as I saw and understood it) to Gail's. Gail also wants to break free, but appears to me to be accepting the occasional failure, and doesn't appear to suffer from acute embarrassment. She tries something, it doesn't work out, she tries it again, and again. Nobody thinks anything less of her for trying. At least I don't. As for laughter, she's often the first to laugh, especially at herself.
Gail has tried and become successful later in life at several things that typically one wouldn't think a person would pick up after youth. Whereas, it appears Doug has moved pretty much laterally for many years, coasting on the successes of his own youth, and unwilling (or unable) to expand and move forward. This combination made me think that the fear of failure - the fear of embarrassment - is possibly self realizing. If you fear it, it will happen. The person who fears embarrassment will most definitely feel it. The one who fears failure, will fail. If you try something new, you are not going to enter at the top. You not going to hit a home run on the first and every swing. If that's failure, then you will fail - repeatedly. Maybe Doug needs to step back and remember what it was like to be a kid trying something new, fumbling, failing and ultimately gaining ability and confidence. And laughing at himself along the way.
Oh, any guesses as to who was who in the comparisons? I wonder if it's obvious or even has any bearing. Perhaps we are pre-programmed moist robots simply carrying out our instruction sets, following the course, regardless of where it goes.