How to Live Without Fear

Dali x Kim

Dear friend,

How do you live without fear? Let me give you some advice, that has helped steer me into the clear.

1. You’re not going to die

Vitruvian Camera by ANNETTE KIM

Ok, I think it is fear of death which is the biggest fear most of us have.

Let’s say you want to start a new business? Worst case scenario, you will go bankrupt. You won’t die.

You want to ask that person on a date? The worst that will happen is they will reject you.

It sounds a bit extreme…but realize that anything you do, almost anything you do in life, you will NOT DIE.

Dali x Kim

To me, that liberates me. I can do anything artistic and creative I want, without risk of terminal injury or death.

For example in the past, you had the risk of being burned at the stake for being a heretic. You could have had your books burned. But now, we only fear people down voting us online, or people saying mean things about us on the Internet. We will not be tortured, have our family killed, or one of our arms cut off.

Avedon x Kim

My heart truly does go out to you though, if you live in a country without freedom of speech. Then you do indeed have to risk possible imprisonment, or even death… for speaking your mind.

But if you’re fortunate enough to live in a country with freedom of speech…don’t take that shit for granted. Don’t be subjected to passivity via distracting entertainment (Netflix, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat).

2. Become a modern day renaissance person

Dali x Kim

To be truly happy (according to Greek ideals) is to seek “eudaimonia”— or human flourishing.

In plain English, seek to be a modern day master, or a modern day renaissance person.

Consider, we have access to all the information, knowledge, tools, and technology of history. Ain’t nothing holding you back, except perhaps your self-fear, and perhaps the “rules” of society.

I say, break out of your golden handcuffs! Tear down the golden cubicle walls made out of styrofoam! Smash the glass ceiling! Shatter your golden handcuffs.

Your life is short and uncertain. Why waste it doing shit you don’t like? You still have a lot of freedom…even having a 9-5 office job. You still got time before work, during your lunch break, after your lunch break, and weekends.

Use the internet and your devices to LEARN and to CREATE!

Some topics I’m currently studying (this is from a non-technical sociology major):

  • Cubist art (Picasso)
  • Surrealism (Salvador Dali)
  • Computer science (Wikipedia)
  • Human Perception and Visual Imaging (Wikipedia)
  • Machine learning and AI (openai.org)
  • Philosophy (Nietzsche)
  • Music (hip hop, Kanye West, Jay Z, producing beats on my iPad on MPC app and Garage Band).

Never self doubt yourself, and say shit like “I’m too old” or “I’m not good at math.” That shit is just self-imposed doubt, shackled onto you by society.

3. No defining yourself, or self doubting yourself

Dali x Kim

There is no left brain, right brain dichotomy. There ain’t no introversion or extraversion. These are just reductive categories which shackle our human potential. Fuck all that. Break free of definitions.

Also, don’t define yourself.

Leonardo da Vinci didn’t call himself anything. He did everything. He did engineering, painting, human anatomy, and was able to let his own inner creative genius flourish.

The problem is, we put ourselves into categories. We are painters, photographers, artists, writers, etc. But fuck that, DO EVERYTHING! You got no creative borders.

The genius of Leonardo da Vinci is that he did BOTH engineering and painting. The same with Salvador Dali— he was a great painter, but very keen about mechanics, perspective, and human perception.

Strip the descriptions, and your own biography of definitions. Undefine yourself.

For example, I refuse to be defined anymore. At least by myself. I want to explore EVERYTHING. Painting, perspective, algorithms, computer science, photography, automotive design, watch design, fashion, rap, etc.

Same for you. Don’t define yourself.

4. Anticipate hate

Dali x Kim

You know you’re “successful” once you start getting people hating on you.

Why?

The worst art is the art that makes people feel indifferent. The purpose of art is to make someone FEEL SOMETHING.

Great art divides people. Great art upsets people. Great art uplifts people.

The only cardinal sin of an artist is to bore your viewer.

If someone hates on your art or creation, it is a GOOD sign. It means your art is NOT boring.

Consider all the great artists of history. Everyone was hated and called “overrated.” Imagine all the haters Michael Jackson, Audrey Hepburn, Picasso, Salvador Dali, and Richard Avedon had. Their work DIVIDED PEOPLE— a good thing.

Dali x Kim

It is better to have a small, and very dedicated following, instead of having a large and mostly lukewarm following. I’d rather have 20 very loyal followers, than 200,000 “meh” followers.

So the rule is this,

Once people start calling your work “overrated” it means you’re doing something right.

5. Publish the fear away.

Dali x Kim

Often, indecision and fear paralyzes me.

But for me,

The more I publish, the less fear I have.

I was astonished to hear that Picasso made 1-2 art works a day until he died.

We never know what “good” art is gonna be. But the more we publish, create, and swing our bat… the more likely we are to hit a home run.

Eric Kim by Cindy Nguyen

Even now, I have no idea which of my blog posts will go viral or be popular. Even Hollywood Producers have no idea what films will be popular. Nobody knew that Harry Potter or 50 Shades of Grey would have been popular. Venture Capitalists don’t know which of their startups will take off…so they just invest in a little bit of everything.

Takeaway point: Take LOTS OF SMALL BETS.

6. Ignore everyone else

Dali x Kim

To be honest, to ignore comments online (good and bad) is probably the best way to live your life.

Why? You become a slave to the opinion of others.

Every true innovation and creative genius comes from you just “doing you”— following your own (crazy or unusual) vision.

Consider, society wants you to be generic. People want to put you into a box. They want to categorize you. They don’t like you going against the grain.

Practical tips,

  1. Install the “Shut Up” plugin for your browser (Chrome, Firefox, Safari)
  2. Disable comments or statistics, or page views, on your website or blog.
  3. Install “Demetricstor” plugin for your browser, so you don’t see numbers on your Facebook
  4. Uninstall social media from your phone, it is bad for your self-esteem

Of course, listen to the feedback of your loved ones and those who really know you. I listen to Cindy all the time. But, you don’t always need to act upon the feedback of others.

And when in doubt, follow your gut. (I think there is more intelligence in our stomach than our brains).

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