My fear

This is the speech of Vu Tien Duy, a student from Grade 11 (class of 2018) in TEDxOLYMPIA.

I quickly came to realize an unfortunate recurring theme that really stood out like a sore thumb – FEAR. Throughout my childhood and even now,  I always have at least one or more strange or common kinds of fear. During my childhood, ghosts, a flying curtain in  the wind, the back of my drawers, death, or getting caught by the “crocodile” in the childhood game “crocodile getting on the land” were what I feared the most.

When I have grown up a bit more, some of my childish fears are gone, or replaced by new fears such as...dare I say?... teachers, schools, studying, and homework. After I entered secondary school, I was  “surrounded” by my classmates who believed hiding my belongings in dark corners, throwing my stuffs around while I stood in the center begging them for mercy  were a sport. And  those build up my mental fear – the fear to interact with other classmates, peers and eventually other human beings. Beforehand, I also came to see that my life was crippled by unknown fear.

So I decided to use fire to play with fire - muster up the little courage in this frail frame to

come up here and battle glossophobia - fear of public speaking - the most common fear, even above death, to address the topic of today: FEAR

What really is fear? Fear, triggered by the amygdala, is one of the most basic survival mechanisms. It is believed that a large part of fear is a response to the horror of a painful experience in life.  For example, fear of dog when you got bitten once by a dog, that’s pretty common for everyone, especially if this occurred during childhood.  Fear can change due to the environment, or due to different periods of time. And I did a little research to prove this. I spend some times travelling to the countryside and meeting the elderly who live there. And here come their answers to my question about fears.

As you can see, for those, who is of my grandma and grandpa age, they have the fear of simple things such as ghost, hunger, death, bad guys...

When they were growing  up, at the time that they witnessed the Vietnam - US war, some of the fear changed, some remained the same, such as aircrafts, soldiers, death, loss of family members.

I also conduct some research within the millenials and generation Z. Most of them show the same results, and may be even more complicated as times goes by.

So, the question is, can fear be cured? How to fight against our fear?

Let’s go through how I fought my fear.

First, the fear of ghosts and mysterious things

I can still remember how I, as a young child, became so frightened to sleep alone in a dark room. There were nights that I couldn’t sleep, fearing once I closed my eyes, there would be  actually some monsters appearing and kidnapping me right away. However, at some points of time after I grew up, I learnt that those are just my imagination. I know that there are actually no monster secretly hiding under my bed, kidnapping me when I sleep. Ultimately, I learnt to leave all those imagination behind, and now I can enjoy a peaceful sleep every night.

And, fear of making mistakes.

When I started secondary school, I was very bad at every single subject at school.  When I say bad - I mean REALLY really bad. There were times when  the whole class would laugh at me when I did something wrong. Many more times my opinion was different from the rest. At times like those , I felt like this whole world was against me. So I chose to keep my opinion, my ideas to myself only. Because of this decision, a lot of time I regret. I regretted it because the idea that I chose not to speak up was actually the correct one. Over the time, I started to feel that the decision was so silly. I started to question myself: " How can I overcome this". I did take action.


At first, like every student and every other parents would do, I tried out several social skills classes that teach you to be more confident. Well, none of them turns out to be a success. When I was about to give up, this idea came to my mind: "Why don't you improve yourself first?". Then I studied liked crazy, even got rid of the time that I would have used to play video games on my ipad. I managed to strictly follow that method for half a year, spent thousands of hours of hard working. It beared fruit. I eventually gained more knowledge, became better at every subjects. Yeah, I found no more reason to fear. I feel free to express my opinions, because I have my knowledge to back them up. That’s how I fought the fear of making mistakes.