I was one of those kids who was afraid of her own shadow.
When the doorbell rang, I’d hide. I was afraid of men with facial hair. I was afraid of the woods, the dark, drowning, being left alone, getting lost, nuclear war, nightmares, painful death, losing my parents, being attacked by animals, being excluded, not knowing what to say, being made fun of, frogs, snakes, answering the phone, being abducted, ghosts, talking to strangers, speaking my mind, mean kids, losing a friend, making new friends, being disliked, boys liking me, boys not liking me, having sex, getting pregnant, failing school, not getting into college, being a disappointment, being the worst at everything, and so on and so forth, forever.
It’s just my way, I guess. I was not born a daredevil, one to take unnecessary risks. I liked what I knew, and worked very hard at finding a comfy spot where I went. Anything outside of my very rigid boundaries scared me.
What a barrel of monkeys I was.
One by one, I’ve left most of those fears behind. Maturity has absorbed most of them; the interpersonal ones are long gone, as are the ones that have to do with physicality or emotions.
As we grow and become more comfortable in our own skin and in our place in the world, we take more risks and rebel against our normal, expected behavior. We use our fears to drive our behavior and in the process many of our fears dissolve. By high school my friends and I would cruise the local university for parties and college boys. I traveled to Europe and became an exchange student. In college, conquering my fears with rebellion and risk looked like a fake ID and cliff-diving.
My fears rumbled under the surface, but I squashed them down in the name of experience and growth, finding my own path, and following others. Am I the sort of person who would get a tattoo? I wondered. Yes. Yes, I think I am. It only hurts for a little while. The needles are very safe.
I sort of wish that I had listened to my fears on that one.
As an adult I learned not to be afraid of most of the things that plagued me as a kid. Part of the reason is my faith, the belief that all things happen for a reason and for good, even if they are bad things. Part of the reason is that fear only serves to paralyze. Risks can have amazing results and rebellion is sometimes taking the high road and coming out better than before. Another part is that I’ve learned how to handle so many things. My experiences in conquering fears have taught me to adapt and be more competent.
And part of the reason is that I’m just tired of being afraid. I spent all my fears already.
Except for the one about being attacked by animals. Bears, mostly. And velociraptors. You’ve seen Jurassic Park, right? Terrifying.
|photo via wikia|
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