My greatest fears are ...

Mes plus grandes craintes sont ...

disappointing myself.

dying without having made a contribution to the betterment of the world.

failing and not living up to people's expectations of me

falling off a really high place, or being stuck in a vast, open place (like the bottom of the ocean.)

losing loved ones, terminal diseases, accident that drives me away from my dreams.

losing my family, losing my friends, and not graduating on time.

losing my parents or my friends.

losing those I love,
failing those I care about,
wasting opportunities,
making the wrong decision

no getting into med school, disappointing my parents, selling out and not following my passion

Not doing anything significant for the advancement of science and accidentally offending someone

not having a career that makes me feel as if I am contributing to the world, not being able to balance my work with my personal life, falling short of my potential

of public speaking and health hazards.

pain and wrongful accusations.

sickness and my parents' death.

someone close to me dying.

that all my hard work through college will not pay off due to either my unhappiness with my career or the economic crisis arising in the States.

that I won't be able to figure out what I want to do with my life and I'll end up with a career that doesn't make me happy.

world war 3, prompted by the Israel/Palestine conflict or the current US involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan and being unable to survive by myself as an adult after graduating from school.

de mourir jeune, de ne pas créer de famille, et de ne pas avoir de situation financière stable.

de ne pas pouvoir voyager,
de ne pas réussir mon projet professionnel,
de perdre quelqu'un de cher

de ne pas réussir dans la vie

de ne pas réussir mes études et de rater mon plan de carrière.

de perdre les amis avec lesquels j'ai fait les meilleures soirées


l'évolution de la crise, le chômage.

l'emploi, une réussite qui n'est pas au rendez-vous, la crise

l'obtention de mon diplôme, mon avenir professionnel.

la crise de 2009

la destruction de l'environnement

la guerre,
la solitude

la guerre, la destruction de la planète, l'indifférence

la hausse du chômage et la diminution du nombre d'emplois.

la mort de mes proches, le réchauffement climatique

la réussite de mes examens , l'écologie.

le manque de travail, lamontée du chomage et une éducation nationale de plus en plus mauvaise

les guerres

me tromper d'orientation, pas de travail plus tard, pas de maison plus tard

pour l'avenir, notamment dans le monde du travail, pour la planète

pour l'avenir, pour mes études. Mais aussi la venue d'un dictateur en France.


On peut remarquer que nous avons tous plus ou moins peur de rater nos études et notre vie familliale. Mais du coté français on peut aussi voir que l'écologie et l'avenir de la planète est quelquechose qui nous inquiete alors que je ne croit pas avoir vu cette inquietude du coté américain. En France l'écologie à pris une place importante, de plus en plus de d'habitations sont construitent avec une volonté de respecter l'environnement. Le gouvernement cherche aussi à équiper les villes pour éviter le gaspillage d'energie. Est ce que l'écologie  est un sujet de plus en plus present pour vous aussi ou est ce un sujet peut aborder chez vous ?

The Americans biggest fear is failure and not making significant contributions to the world, followed by losing beloved ones/parents/ friends. The French students biggest fear arises from the financial and job market situation (crisis, unemployment). Other relevant fears on the French side are failure and the future of the planet.

Noone on the American side mentioned the ecology, the unemployment, or the crisis. Noone on the French side mentioned not contributing to the betterment of the world as a fear.

It appears to me that the Americans give great importance to success, to live up to the expectations, and to gain recognition from others. French students are maybe more practical and worry about getting a job and having a good financial situation.

Something I found interesting is that you, the French students, appear more worried about a war. Do you feel that France going to war with their neighbors is a possibility in the near future? Are you thinking of a nuclear world war? Why is this a significant concern for you?

Also, you barely mention death and losing loved ones as a big fear. Is it because you don't think of it? Because you accept it as something unavoidable? Because you don't call this a "fear"?

I know when I was asked this particular sentence completion, I assumed it had to do with my personal fears.  If the sentence had read "My biggest fears for the world. . .", then I would have answered differently.  I think my interpreation of the question came about because, to me, my personal fears are much bigger than my fears for the world.

What kind of measures do you take to protect yourself from your fears?

I agree with David. Had the question read slightly differently, there could have been a host of different responses.

While I believe that a large group of Americans are very unaware of most global issues, I do think that most educated Americans are aware of global conflict and the energy crisis. However, there is a big difference between being aware and being afraid of something. In general, most Americans do not fear war and do not fear global warming. They know that it is a present issue, but they are much more likely to fear losing their job or not being able to pay the bills because that has a much higher chance of being in the immediate future.

Perhaps this can be explained through our history. Aside from Pearl Harbor, American soil hasn't experienced war from another country in almost 200 years. It is very engrained in our way of thinking that wars simply don't happen on American soil. This is why the attacks of 9-11 were so alarming- people simply didn't believe that it could happen. While our chances of being attacked again are high, people just don't know any different than to assume that our homes won't be touched. This is why war is not something that we actively "fear". 

However, people are very aware of unemployment and a falling economy. Old memories of the great depression and huge inflation in the 70s makes those fears more real because generations in America remember what happened during those times.

So it is not that we aren't thinking about global issues, it is just that because of our history, we actively fear more personal issues before global issues that may or may not even affect us.

When I looked at this sentence completion topic, the first thing that stood out to me was that on the American side, the responses were almost totally personal, in the sense that each person's fears basically only affected them (or their family). On the French side too there "personal" fears as well, but there are also many "global" fears (like the financial crisis, skyrocketing unemployment rates, and global warming) that affect many people.

Almost by definition "global" events affect everyone, and thus in some way also have an effect on the "personal" level. In that way, I'm not really sure why global fears are missing on the American side (and even in my own response). I think it might actually reveal something about the American mentality.

For example, one can't turn on the news without hearing about the devastating effects of the financial crisis. Even MIT is actively trying to reduce its operating costs to offset its recent losses. Several departments at MIT have begun to layoff employees, and I recently read in the school newspaper that two branch libraries at MIT are going to close. What kind of job market will I enter in two years when I graduate? I recently talked with my mom about these latest developments, and used the word "scary" to describe them.

But for all my worries about this ongoing financial crisis, I didn't mention it once as one of my fears! Why? The only answer I can come up with is that when reading the question, I assumed that a revealing, personal response was wanted. I suppose at this point most people are afraid of, or at least deeply concerned about, the financial crisis, the health of our planet, and war. Maybe in omitting those responses, I was acknowledging the universality of those fears.

I agree... I do have fears related to the financial crisis, the job market, etc. but when someone asks me what my greatest fears are, I tend to immediately think of things that would be catestrophic for me personally (like my family dying, or something similar) that would be huge blows for me but not necessarily affect other people.  If the job market gets bad enough that it is impossible to get jobs after we graduate (something which I am already seeing with very recent MIT graduates), we will be in a crisis that will affect everyone--everyone will be in the same boat, so to speak.

Along those lines, for those who responded more globally, what are your greatest personal fears?

Pour répondre à David Gonzalez Rodriguez,

Quand nous avons parlé de la guerre pour nos plus grandes craintes, il ne s'agit pas que nous pensons qu'il y aura une future guerre entre la France et un pays voisin mais plutôt le fait que la guerre est tellement affreuse que celle-ci constitue une crainte pour l'avenir. Ce serait en effet pour les français un événement inconsidérable. Nous avons parlé des craintes globales, c'est pourquoi je pense qur le terme "guerre" apparaît.

Pour ma part, si je n'ai pas mentionné lé décès de mes proches ou d'un événement semblable, c'est parce que je n'ai pas parlé de mes craintes personelles. Mais bien sûr qu'il constitue une de mes plus grandes craintes personnelles et je pense que comme vous, on y pense aussi.

Pour répondre à Mary Masterman, mes craintes personnelles seraient le décès de mes proches, c'est-à-dire mes amis ou ma famille ; de ne pas trouver un travail dans lequel je m'épanouirai ; d'avoir des échecs tant au niveau personnel que professionnel ... Et vous, quelles sont alors vos craintes globales concernant le monde ?

Some global fears of mine would defintely be war, global warming, environmental damages, and the economic crisis, just like you mentioned.  We do live on the same planet, after all.

When I think about it, these global fears are more removed from me than my personal fears because I know these global concerns can be resolved (or prevented).  But yes, when I think about environmental damage in particular, I start to think what I can do to take a part in stopping it, be it pursing a specific career or just recycling. Basically, I know there are people willing and able to deal with these problems.  Maybe someday we'll be one of those people.

As for personal fears, they are things that only I can control, and only I can resolve, so that is why I fear them more.

I associate the word "fear" with personal fears. I am certainly concerned about global issues as well, but I do not have such a strong emotional response to them. That is why, for me, the word "fears" immediately evokes personal and intimate ones.

While I am also concerned about the issues that Danielle and the French students mention, my biggest global concerns are a little different: the social inequalities within a country and between different countries, the control of people's thought by propaganda and mass media (even in democratic countries), the lack of freedom to express and discuss "subversive" or "politically incorrect" ideas, and the excessive importance of "personal connections" and "having the right friends" in so many domains of society.

Let's talk about the economic crisis, for example. I think I would never list this as a fear, since -same as Danielle- this issue is something I regard as being beyond me. I didn't cause the crisis, I have no control about it, and I don't even know what is really going on. Regarding such global issue, I have a more individualistic and personal point of view: I am mostly concerned about the consequences of the crisis on my own life. While I am "concerned" about the global crisis, my "fear" is being able to find/keep a job and sustain myself, not the crisis on itself.

Do you think we could link this different point of view about fears to our previous discussion about individualism? Maybe, American's individualism also means that they look at global issues individually, from their own personal situation and for as long as they see an effect of the issue on their own life. By contrast, maybe French have a stronger sense of group. Maybe this is why strikes are common in France but rare in the US, since a strike is about the problems of a big group rather than about problems of individuals. What do you think?


My greatest global fear would definitely be war. I find it quite terrifying that a relatively small group of people could assemble and use a weapon of mass destruction powerful enough to completely wipe out a country. It also seems like such an inevitable fate: as technology progresses, weapons become more powerful, easier to manufacture and harder to regulate. At some point, someone is bound to control and use such weapons for personal gain, resulting in dire consequences indeed.

Mes craintes sont avant tout d'ordre personnel mais elles résultent aussi de craintes plus générales, plus "mondiales".

La crainte de ne pas être indépendant financièrement, de ne pas réussir mes études, de ne pas décrocher un job, de voir mes proches mourir sont un ensemble de craintes personnelles auxquelles je pense. Elles s'inscrivent dans le cadre de ma propre existence et certaines dépendent en partie de moi, de mes choix, de mes compétences.

Mais, ma peur se situe aussi à un niveau plus global. Avec, comme il a souvent été évoqué (David Gonzalez-Rodriguez, Kasey Rowe, Chloe Dames, Daniel Piskorz, Blandine L'azou, Pedro Brin) la possibilité de guerres.

Au niveau européen, les séquelles de guerre sont importants, souvent nos grands-parents nous on narrés leurs souvenirs du conflit de 39-45. Les faits qu'ils ont gardés en mémoire sont tristes et crus. De facto, la possibilité d'une guerre sur notre territoire nous effraie.

Je pense que la guerre (ou la crise) bien que dépendant de manière infinitésimale de nous doit être considérer comme une crainte à part entière.


Les français, du fait de leurs problèmes, leurs craintes communes se regroupent pour manifester en commun leurs inquiétudes. Ils vont dans la rue pour faire entendre au gouvernement et aux entreprises à la fois leur mécontentement mais aussi leurs craintes. Cela fait partie de notre culture et du sens important que requiert pour nous la notion de groupe.

Les jeunes expriment en manifestant, en effectuant des blocus leur crainte en l'avenir. Leur grande crainte étant celle-ci : vivre moins bien que ses ancêtres.

Depuis le début de l'existence humaine, on a assisté à une amélioration des conditions de vie. Il s'avère, que cela semble être remis en question. Pourquoi ? En raison de faits mondiaux vérifiés : le réchauffement climatique, diminution des ressources en vivres, en eau...  qui sont facteurs de changement de mode de vie.

Les chiffres  pour la France sont cinglants : un jeune sur quatre est confiant en son avenir et moins de 5% pensent que "l'avenir de la société est prometteur."

Cependant, n'allez pas croire que nous sommes toujours pessimistes ; ))


Le fait que vous étudiez au MIT ne vous garantie-t-il pas une "sécurité de l'emploi" ?

Y a-t-il des manifestations de crainte en l'avenir de la jeunesse aux USA ?







Je trouve également étonnant que n'aux réponses portent sur des choses plus globales alors de vos réponses sont plus personnelles, plus individualistes. Peut etre est ce parce que nous vivons dans un assez petit pays que nous avons moins de mal à penser "groupe". Le fait que vous viviez dans un grand pays rend peut être plus difficil ce rapprochement entre individus ?

Il est étonnant de constater que nous sommes beaucoup à mentionner la guerre comme l'une de nos peur, personnellement ça n'en est pas une pour moi, j'ai plutot l'impression que nous entretenons de bonnes reletions avec nos voisins et je suis étonnée qu'elle ne fasse pas plutot partie des votres car depuis 11 sept 2001 on a l'impression que les attentats sont quelquechose que vous redouté particulierement, je me trompe ? Est ce que cette peur est un peu retombée maintenant ?

To respond of Guillaume's question, graduating from MIT does, in effect, give us rather good job security.  I believe that our fear of not having a job that makes us happy comes from the fact that we do not declare our majors until the end of our first year of college. True, some know for sure the subject they are interested in and the field they would like to work in in the future, but others are less certain.  This uncertainty leads to this particular fear.

As for manifestations of our fear of the future, I cannot think of any besides a few songs on the radio.  Perhaps someone else can think of something more substantial?  I'm sure there's more.