Why Are We Afraid Of Looking Stupid?

By | October 5, 2023

As a first impression, we don’t want to appear clueless or foolish to others. We want to project an image of competency and power while we try to mask our insecurities. The issue is that we’re not born powerful or skilled. We lack skills in so many areas of our lives. And that affects us deeply — the cause of our fears is our lack. We don’t want to be seen as weak — the fear of being judged or seen in a negative manner is crippling; it is a real fear, indeed.

Sometimes I wonder why are we so invested in how others see us. Aren’t we perfectly imperfect creatures? Aren’t they just as imperfect as we are? If we ask such questions, we’re forced to acknowledge that any person has flaws, and therefore, fear of what others think of us is futile and unnecessary. The main concern shall be to unlearn our impulses to judge others irrationally. Marcus Aurelius wrote in his daily Meditations:

“How much time he gains who does not look to see what his neighbor says or does or thinks, but only at what he does himself, to make it just and holy.”

He ended brilliantly, saying “to make it just and holy.” He wasn’t narcissistic at all. He only saw that everything we do needs to have a virtuous intention behind it. We’re not up for judging people, nor are we afraid of their thoughts. We’re only concerned with doing the right things, for as long as we live. Isn’t that a great approach?

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