Your fear is someone’s security (and vice versa)


I was engaged in a conversation about guns.

On one side, the need for owning guns to protect oneself and one’s family seemed unassailable.

On the other side, horror.

On one side, the importance of safe, responsible gun ownership, including training for proper use (storage, cleaning, etc.) was touted as of primary importance.

On the other side, the risks of owning a gun and the potential for harm vastly outweighed the chance of using it effectively for defense.

The specific conversation about guns is not important here. I’m not here to advocate one side or the other. (Seriously, let’s not go there, please.)

But what I found most interesting was the realization of the inverse nature of security and fear in people.

Fear and security in the Second Amendment

Let’s stick with the gun analogy for a bit longer. For some, the ownership of guns creates a sense of security. Protection, defense, safety, they all go along with gun ownership for these people.

But for others, the exact same situation elicits the feeling of fear. Someone accidentally wounded or killed, and other collateral damage, they all go along with gun ownership for these people.

But now take guns away from these two groups of people.

In the first case, the removal of gun ownership elicits a feeling of fear: Now there is the inability to defend oneself and one’s family.

In the second case, the removal of gun ownership creates a sense of security: No one can be injured with a non-existent gun.

You will never agree

Okay, done with the gun analogy, promise. How does this affect you?

The inverse relationship of security and fear explains how you are not able to see eye-to-eye with others on the exact same situations. It shows why you are not convincing, and not able to be convinced. It is because your life experience creates feelings that contribute to and vastly alter the situation.

Fear and security in the job market

Now let’s talk about jobs and employment. When deciding between working for yourself and working for others the same security and fear relationship appears.

To some, working for oneself creates a sense of security. You can never be fired! You can do the work you want!

To others, working for oneself creates a feeling of fear. What if no one buys? What if I don’t earn enough money?

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And to everyone, the reverse, working for others, produces the inverse:

To those who feel security from self-employment, traditional employment creates a feeling of fear. I have no job security! I can be let go at any time!

Similarly, to those who fear self-employment, traditional employment creates a sense of security. I don’t need to wonder where my money is going to come from each day! I can just work.

You get the point. This inverse relationship explains why we often take the same situation and draw diametrically opposite conclusions.

When you don’t share the same fears

I read a lot about working for myself, as, intellectually, I realize that doing one’s own work, as opposed to working for others, feels more authentic. As evidenced by another week in which I’ve gotten up early to write this when I could easily just sleep in, we are more motivated by work that matters to us than by work that matters to others.

But we are not always motivated enough to overcome fear. And I’ll admit that I fall firmly in the camp of “self-employment = fear.” Just thinking about relying solely on myself for my income makes my stomach tighten. I picture whole days in a low-grade panic, feeling like I’m not working hard enough, fearing that I’ll never be able to provide for myself, wondering what I could be doing differently.

And yet, I know plenty of others, like my friend Saul, who do their own work with ease. I’ve read his entire Lateral Freelancer book, and I would highly recommend it. But without giving anything away, the one question it doesn’t answer—couldn’t answer—is “how do you quell the fear induced by working for yourself?” And that is because his security is my fear.

Many sides to the coin

Thankfully, the choice of self-employment or traditional employment is not a binary distinction. You can do a little of both, holding down a traditional job with working for yourself on the side.

For better or worse, though, that’s not really possible with guns.

But enough about me. Do you feel security where others feel fear (or vice versa)?


  1. saulofhearts

    Thanks for the mention! It’s interesting, I was having a similar conversation with one of my new roommates earlier. He’s not exactly a freelancer, but he’s taken lots of short term jobs in all sorts of places, including long stints abroad.

    He mentioned how he has a genuine fear of ending up in a “real” job, because he values the freedom to travel and uproot. For him, a position with health benefits, paid time off, etc., is what’s scary, because it would make him feel “stuck”.

    On the other hand, I know that I’d feel genuinely scared of taking on random gig overseas, even if it meant getting to live in a great ski resort or neighborhood. So yeah, fear is relative when it comes to work, and there are no one-size-fits-all answers!

    • Mike

      Wow, I don’t know how I’d feel about the random gig overseas. I think it
      could be tons of fun and a great experience, but I’d probably care just as much about my plan for when I got

      I think if more people truly felt that they could leave a
      bad situation, fewer people would stay in them. But right now, I don’t
      think that’s the case!

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