Why are we scared to put ourselves out there?


In this episode, we discuss why we were (once) scared to put ourselves out there and how we overcame that fear.

Table of contents

In this episode, we discuss why we were (once) scared to put ourselves out there and how we overcame that fear.

Some of the highlights from our discussion:

The main objection people seem to have to others putting themselves out there is the sentiment that these people are trying to signal value or show-off in some way. If your primary reaction is ‘wow, what a show-off’ then that speaks more to your worldview than their actual intentions. Playing the piano in public should not be seen as a moment of signalling but rather an exercise in putting yourself out there.

We’re often not comfortable to putting ourselves out there but we can train our confidence muscle to become more accustomed to doing it. Ali describes how magic served as his ‘gateway drug’ to putting himself out there.

Austin Kleon’s mantra from Show Your Work, was one of the key reasons that Ali began his own blog in 2016:

“Even if what you have to say is going to be useful to at least one person in the world, then that is a strong indication for putting it out there”.

In the UK, there is a culture which frowns upon self-promotion. The characteristics that are more greatly valued are being understated and reserved.

Our reactions tend to be different if the person in question (i.e putting themselves ‘out there’) is someone that we know. People look at each other as having fixed identities and if someone is trying to break out of their fixed identities, their friends or acquaintances can be suspicious and often come to view this change in a negative way. For instance, if a public figure appears on a TV programme, we tend not to be too interested but if we suddenly saw our friend appearing on that same TV programme, this would spark a completely different reaction.

We’re worried about what other people are going to think, we’re worried that what we are going to say doesn’t have any value and the fear of being judged for doing it. This final point relating to judgement does change as we grow older – it is perhaps most acute during early-mid teenage years where the school environment often conspires to make it more acute.

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  1. Taimur's YouTube channel
  2. Video - Taimur's Garden Hose YouTube video (2011)
  3. Satire Article - The Daily Mash - Man playing public piano in railway station doesn’t realise he’s a twat (2017)
  4. Taimur's Blog Post - How many failed projects does it take to learn how to code? (2013)
  5. Book - Austin Kleon - Show your Work
  6. Ali's Blog Post - Getting over the fear of personal blogging (2016)
  7. Song - Stick to the Status Quo (High School Musical)

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What is this? Not Overthinking is a podcast about happiness, creativity, and the human condition. We talk about things to help us think, do, and be better. Things like social interaction, lifestyle design, mental models...things that are hard to examine, but important to explore. And hopefully, things that make for a fun and interesting chat every week.

‌‌Follow Not Overthinking on Twitter: https://twitter.com/noverthinking.‌‌

Who are we?

Ali is a junior doctor and YouTuber working in Cambridge, UK. He makes videos about medicine, technology, productivity and lifestyle design. His links: YouTube, Blog, Newsletter, Instagram‌‌‌‌

Taimur is a data scientist and writer, working on his own startup Causal. He writes on his blog and as a columnist for Medium. His links: Blog, Twitter, Medium, Instagram

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