Thursday, October 30, 2014

'Fraidy Cat

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.

I was a little angsty.





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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This post inspired by:

Mama’s Losin’ It

Something that scared you when you were young… are you still afraid?

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25 comments:

  1. As another fraidy cat - I loved this. And this, "Risks can have amazing results and rebellion is sometimes taking the high road and coming out better than before," needs to be on a plaque. Beautiful.

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    1. Thank you, Allison! It's important for me to realize that risks don't always have to involve physical danger - they can just offer change, which might be better in the long run.

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  2. I was not a fearful child, but find myself more of a worrier now. I blame the children.

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    1. Yes. The worrying - it's all their fault.

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  3. I was a fearful child as well.
    I think you and I need to stage an intervention with our mom's.
    Because SEPARATED AT BIRTH.

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    1. Oh no - REALLY? Maybe we are those people in science fiction movies who have parallel lives. Or separated at birth. Or soul mates. Or all of the above.

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    1. Right? I have had nightmares about them. AS AN ADULT.

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  5. You give me so much hope for my little step daughter... She is afraid of everything! I keep thinking she is too old to still be scared of every day things... but I am trying to be patient.... LOL

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    1. It's no good to push a fearful child to do what they are afraid to do - they might just be testing the waters for a few years before they take the plunge! Stay patient with her!

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  6. I have lots of fears. Well, some fears. But mine seem to get worse as I get older, like my fear of heights and being closed in. I wish they would get better with age.

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    1. Oh, the being closed in - I have developed that too. And why do these fears get worse? Is there an age where we just say 'Screw it - I'm not afraid of anything!' ? Is this age 100?

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  7. I was always scared that when we returned from vacation, while rounding the corner on our street, that we could come upon our house and see that it had burned down. I have no idea why.

    And JAWS. Alwaya scared of JAWS. ;)

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    1. Elaine - I have that fear - of the house being gone - NOW. And Jaws is scary.

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  8. I have many fears - most of them now revolve around the children though. Sigh.

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    1. Yes. Children are fear mongers. They don't even know it.

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  9. Like you I was so afraid all the way up into my 20s. Suddenly I realized it was easier to think of things I wasn't afraid of.. somehow in my rigid, rule-forming mind that morphed into simply being able to walk away from the fears.Most of the dead weight has dropped.

    I'm still not so good in big groups, but I've found ways to be comfortable. Also, I don't like things jumping out at me, whether it be a mouse startled out of my office desk drawer or a jaguar from behind a rock (the former has happened to me, the latter not so much - thank goodness!).

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    1. No? A Jaguar hasn't jumped out from behind a rock? That totally happens to me all the time!

      Ha ha. Not really.

      I guess part of leaving fears behind is just maturity. But why do other fears come to take their place? It doesn't seem fair.

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  10. That first paragraph just sent me into a tailspin of anxiety...thanks a lot!!

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    1. It's a lot of fears for sure. Too many for a kid. Too much for an adult, too.

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  11. I hear you. I had lots of fears as a child and sadly am still plagued by them.

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    1. I'm so sorry - fear is a real, often debilitating thing. I hope you can find peace in your life from them soon. xoxo

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