Chapter 5The Fear of Looking Stupid

The fear of looking stupid is often one of the biggest reasons we don't go after the things we really want. There are so many barriers, actual and tangible – money, time, health – to exploring ideas or trying new activities that we would like to pursue. These are obstacles that are real and that we may not have complete control over. But looking stupid? That is all on us.

I'm sure psychologists and anthropologists can trace back the primal roots of the fear of looking stupid. It was probably some kind of survival mechanism when doing something different from the rest of the tribe was likely to cause a swift and gruesome death.

Tribal Jim: You know, I've always wanted to cross the river and go talk to the people who live over there.
Tribal Joan: I wouldn't do that, you don't know what those people will do.
Tribal Jim: I'm sure it will be fine.

Tribal Jim crosses the river and is greeted by a contingent of the “Across the River Tribe.” Tribal Jim appears very different, as the members of the “This Side of the River” tribe wear their hair long, while the “Across the River Tribe” wears their hair short. They think Tribal Jim looks stupid so they cut off his head and mount it on a post, which is sign language that universally translates to “Please stay on your side of the river, hippies.”

Hence, the fear of looking stupid. The perceived judgment of others holds us back from attempting all sorts of things. I will be mocked, I will be laughed ...

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