Fear is one of those things that is just always around. It lurks in corners in the form a spider. It towers above you in the form of the skyscraper you are afraid to enter. It smothers you until your can’t breathe. Everyone has different fears and everyone handles them differently. But the important thing to note is that everyone has something they are afraid of, whether they are willing to admit it or not.
Fears can come in two forms: rational and irrational. Our rational fears, such as the fear of bodily harm, are hardwired into us as a means for survival. The fight or flight response is the body’s response to rational fears. It protects us from things that could harm us both mentally and physically.
Irrational fears, clinically called phobias, are generally fears of objects or situations where the fear is disproportionate to the danger posed by them. Some of them can be entertaining to onlookers (stories about my fear of bugs to follow) while others can be completely debilitating to a person. However, sometimes our seemingly rational fears can get out of control we become sapped of our life force.
So now it’s story time:
When I was in second grade I attended a Catholic school that my father taught music at. One day for gym class we were playing some sort of game where you throw a ball back and forth between two groups. I know it wasn’t dodgeball… but for the life of me I can’t remember what it was. It’s irrelevant though.. all that matters is that it was one of those rubbery bouncy balls. Well, that might not even matter. Anyway, I didn’t really participate too much; I was well on my way to becoming a young Daria Morgandorffer, but more on apathy later. It occurs to me now that there was a more than an aversion to ball games preventing me from making an effort. I was afraid. It’s not that I didn’t want to play, I just don’t really like embarrassing myself. I wasn’t good at sports. I played t-ball for exactly one season in which I continuously got yelled at because I’m left-handed and when I would let go of the bat to run I would accidently swing it so it slid down the third base line… which is apparently a bad thing. So if I had tried to catch the ball and missed, or gotten hit in the face I would have been mortified. It was just better to stand in the back corner of the playing court and feign interest. But then my moment came. The ball flew over the heads of all of my team mates and landed in a pile of folding chairs directly behind me. It was my chance to actually play whatever asinine game we were playing, and I knew it was my chance because I was the only one on my team anywhere near the pile of chairs. I eagerly trotted over the the pile and chairs and picked up the ball, but before I could even turn around the throw it a boy from my class, let’s call him Scott (because I have no clue what his name actually was), snatches it out of my hands and yells “Give me the ball, Catherine. I’m better than you!”
It’s not that I’m scarred for life by that story (or perhaps I am), but it sort of informs something that I struggle with on a daily basis: my biggest fear is that I will never be good enough. I have a tendency to correlate my self-worth with what people say and think about me. During high school I was dating an abusive guy, both mentally and physically. He constantly told me that I was ugly, fat, worthless, stupid, etc. I got so use to hearing it that I must have believed it to be true.
Now, for some reason, I assume that people have to be paying attention to me for me to matter. So if I haven’t talked to one of my friends for a while, or Husband doesn’t notice that I made my hair look nice, my brain automatically goes to “you don’t matter to them, and why would you?”
I feel like because of this, I had become my own Scott… telling myself I’m not good enough for anything. I’m not good enough to become a decent writer. I’m not cool enough to have friends. I‘m obviously the only one that things my personal style when it comes to home decor and dressing it neat. I’m not strong or determined enough to live the healthy lifestyle I want. I could go on forever.
This fear stops me in my tracks when I think about doing something. From the time I stopped dancing four years ago until roughly 6 months ago, all I wanted to do was dance again. But I wouldn’t because I was afraid I wouldn’t be good at it anymore. It use to come so naturally, and things are different now. And I would rather not dance at all than try and fail. Or worse.. try and be average.
So rather than dealing with these emotions. I retreat so the world can’t hurt me. Even though deep down I know I’m only hurting myself.
Part of my journey to a healthy mind is to be mindful of my overwhelming fears, accept them for what they are, and find ways to over come them. All of this things will help achieve the inner peace I’ve be desperately seeking for years. I have a feeling I’ll struggle with the fear and not being good enough (as well as the fear of bugs) for years to come. But I’m working on it.
But fear isn’t all bad. Without fear there would be no courage. And courage….succinctly put… is awesome.
What are some of your fears? And how to they hold you back?