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Flagging Fear

Colin Wright
Colin Wright
Current location: Milwaukee, WI, USA
Reading: Enemy of All Mankind by Steven Johnson
Listening: FEMINISTA by Tomu DJ
(if you have a moment, reply with your own 3-item status)

Flagging Fear
Over the years I’ve learned to run toward foreboding feelings when I identify them.
I’ve consistently found value in noting and confronting things that scare me; small things, substantial things, dangerous things at times.
Much of this value is derived from the process of picking at the aversion or worry and slowly coming to know it: understanding its origins, what it is I find so disconcerting about it, and in some cases finding I’m actually afraid of something else and have for whatever reason misattributed my misgivings.
It’s natural to deny and deflect and to thus never get an accurate lock on things that cause us any amount of disconcertion. It’s easier to just decide our fears are a law of nature and move on.
Allowing ourselves to say, “Oh yeah, this freaks me out,” is fundamental to moving forward, though. Without such an admission it’s difficult to get an accurate sense of what needs to be scrutinized.
After this initial acknowledgment is accomplished, I find it’s useful to carve the fear-inciting concept into pieces to determine which of its components are causing psychological strain.
From there, I almost always need to dig around a bit because what initially seems to be the issue often isn’t: it’s a reflection of a reflection of a reflection of the real concern.
After traveling full-time for the better part of a decade, for instance, the idea of settling in one place for more than four months terrified me and I wasn’t sure why.
A long period of introspection led to the realization that I was afraid I might not recognize myself in a context not predicated on regular travel.
I was afraid I would be a flattened-out person without anything to offer the world, and I would be incapable of happiness and fulfillment and would lack creative drive if I wasn’t tapped into the inescapable novelty of the road.
Superficially, though, before I started digging, I thought I was afraid of owning a car, buying furniture, and receiving mail every day.
These more-visible aspects of a staying-put lifestyle circled the core issue, but they were not, themselves, the issue.
It took months of thinking and assessing before I was able to pinpoint and affirm my actual fears, and the better part of a year before I was able to reassure myself I was capable of not just being happy, but also remaining creative and productive and fulfilled while not in a permanent state of transit.
It can feel like weakness to flag and follow up on these sorts of internal barriers and conflicts, and the process of tracing and unraveling and, with time, plucking apart the knotted threads of self-imposed inhibitions is seldom pleasant or straightforward.
But it tends to be worth the energy and effort invested because it allows us to perceive ourselves with greater accuracy and clear away piles of psychological detritus before they accumulate into cumbersome, seemingly insurmountable barriers.
If you found some value in this essay, consider supporting my work by buying me a coffee :)
From a winter spent in Reykjavík many years ago. It's finally frosty here in Milwaukee and the gluggaveður ("window-weather") vibe is in full effect.
From a winter spent in Reykjavík many years ago. It's finally frosty here in Milwaukee and the gluggaveður ("window-weather") vibe is in full effect.
Select, recent works from across my project portfolio.
Aspiring Generalist: Monetizing Hobbies
Brain Lenses: Ranking
Let’s Know Things: Pegasus Spyware
Curiosity Weekly: Jan 4, 2022
One Sentence News: Jan 5, 2022 (podcast version)
Interesting & Useful
Some things to click (I curate & share similar links weekly via Curiosity Weekly and daily on Twitter):
From that same winter in Iceland, photo taken at noon.
From that same winter in Iceland, photo taken at noon.
It’s finally snowy and icy and wintery here in Milwaukee, and I’ve been enjoying the frosty vibe. It helps that I can walk most places, so I don’t have to risk the roads when concrete-conditions are grim.
I did a little livestream on Twitch last Sunday, and it was a lot of fun! A huge thanks to those who showed up and helped me bumble through the learning process :)
A lot of people have requested I hold these livestreams at different times so they can attend, so let’s do another one on Saturday this upcoming weekend (Jan 8), at 10am US Central Time.
Livestream event info (including a link to my Twitch page) here: Colin’s Livestream Page.
This’ll be another Q&A session, so bring a question if you like. I’ll also be answering questions submitted ahead of time by folks on Instagram (or via email, if you prefer).
Does anyone know how the “playing games together on Twitch while livestreaming” thing works?
I’ll be looking into this later this week, as I think it’d be a lot of fun to periodically hold that sort of virtual get-together—but being able to ask questions of someone who is better versed in the livestreaming world would likely help me figure out all the details, faster!
Whether or not you know anything about livestreaming, I’d love to hear from you: drop me a quick message with something about yourself, your life, your aspirations, or anything else that comes to mind. You can reach me by replying directly to this newsletter or at
You can also communicate via the typical methods: InstagramTwitterFacebook, or gallery of regrettable foods.
If you’re finding some value in what I’m doing here, consider supporting my work via one of these methods: Become an Understandary member / Buy me a coffee / Buy me a monthly coffee
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Colin Wright
Colin Wright @colinismyname

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