Albert Einstein once said, “I have no special talents, I am only passionately curious.” I appreciate the modesty and the hope in this statement. It really made me think about the importance of curiosity as the starting point in achieving any goal.
Curiosity leads to new experiences and discoveries, it helps to broaden our horizons, and it makes us think for ourselves. Humans are inquisitive by nature, and curiosity is a trait that we all possess to some degree. We are all curious about different things, and pursuing that curiosity can help us to develop in both our personal or professional lives.
Unfortunately we don’t always follow our curiosity because it can be overshadowed by something bigger—our fears. Have you ever wanted to try something but been too afraid to do it? Perhaps you were afraid of failure, rejection, or humiliation. If that sounds familiar, the next time you are in this situation I want you to think about an old Dr Pepper advert featuring Jesse Eisenberg.
In the advert, Jesse is shown browsing the drinks cooler in a supermarket. He decides to try Dr Pepper for the first time, figuring “What’s the worst that could happen?” He soon finds out, as his decision triggers an unfortunate series of events. The cooler door shatters into pieces and stacks of boxes collapse onto him. The emergency services are called and have to cut off his trousers to rescue him, all in front of a large crowd of shoppers. To add to his humiliation, the press is gathered outside the supermarket and he is broadcast in his trouser-less state on national news as he is transported to safety.
Thankfully it’s just a hilarious advert, but it illustrates the absurd and unlikely nature of our fears in the context of trying something new. Often those fears are not realised.
For example, my cousin asked me to give a speech at her wedding two years ago. My initial reaction was to say “no, thank you,” as I am in no way a confident public speaker and the idea of speaking in front of a large audience made me feel queasy. But part of me was also excited about the prospect of giving a speech, and I was genuinely curious to see if I could pull it off.
So I decided to bite the bullet and give my first wedding speech. Did it go smoothly? Well, not exactly. I was nervous. When I started speaking, there was a moment where I lost my train of thought and forgot part of the speech. I had to wing it a little. Nevertheless, I stumbled my way through it, and overall it really wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. It didn’t matter that it wasn’t perfect. The world didn’t end, and I proved to myself that I could step outside of my comfort zone.
I want anyone reading this to know that, if you are “passionately” (or even slightly) curious about something, no matter how big or small—perhaps learning a new skill, exploring a new interest, or taking up a new opportunity—it’s worth trying even if you doubt your ability. Don’t let your fear talk you out of doing something positive you want to do. Instead, satisfy your curiosity and dare to find out what lives on the other side of that fear. It probably isn’t as bad as you think.
Written by Erum Haque
Photography courtesy of Flickr