The Gift of Fear

Ethan Rodriguez
3 min readApr 25, 2021

Two weeks ago, I quit my job of 15 years and enrolled in a full-time software engineering bootcamp to pursue what was in my heart. I could not have done this without the support of my wife who has been my number supporter through this entire process.

Tomorrow, 4/26 I begin that 6-month journey to become a software engineer. The past few weeks have been a whirlwind of emotions. Sadness, excitement, fear, doubt, hope, relief, are just a few of the feelings I’ve had. But most of all, is the fear of failure which is always at the top of my emotional baggage. Fear… an emotion that if often misunderstood. Fear can ride both sides of the spectrum. It can be what motivates you to excel so that you never have to face that fear. It can also be the factor that stops you dead in your tracks and prevents you from being the master of your own destiny. Fear can either be a death sentence or a gift. It all depends on who you are and how you look at fear.

I have learned one thing over the years and that is this! You can only fear failure if you give up. Period. Just because you’ve been knocked down does not mean you have failed. We all get knocked down. What happens next is what determines failure. Are you going to get up off your ass and continue to get back in the fight? Or are you going to just lay down and let fear (or anybody for that matter) kick your ass? You must attack your fears with a never give up mentality.

Two life lessons stand out in my mind in situations like this. My mother taught me at a young age when I was bullied in elementary school to never let anybody bully you. I can remember her telling me that I had better put up such a good fight that even if the bully won the fight, he would never want any more of what I had to give him and move on. And guess what, It worked. I have always remembered that lesson even in my corporate world where there are bullies (of course never physical in the workplace but same rules apply). Second memory I can remember is when I was going through Marine Corps bootcamp in the 90’s. It was to this day the hardest thing I’ve ever had to endure. I put it in my mind that I would get off that dreadful island (Paris Island, SC) one of two ways…. I would graduate a US Marine, or I would die trying (and there were multiple times I was certain I was going to die). There were no other options for me. Yet today I stand before you, having earned the title of United States Marine. And so, I am approaching this next chapter in my life the same way. I’m going to graduate this school and become a software engineer, or I will die trying. And I have a family to take care of so dying is not an option.

And so, with this post I invite all of you to follow me along in this journey. I’m asking you to keep me in your prayers as I begin this new chapter in my life. I will continue to post updates as I progress. Since my new career will require a heavier digital footprint than I’ve ever had, I will use multiple social media platforms and post links to them in the near future.

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Ethan Rodriguez

Software Engineer | Full-Stack Web Developer | JavaScript | React | Ruby | Rails | Active Record | SQL | HTML | CSS