We’re all afraid of something. Hell, most of us have multiple fears. Me? I’m afraid of fire, sharks, spiders, cockroaches…I hate almost all bugs. The exceptions being lightning bugs, dragonflies, ladybugs – you get the idea.
I KNOW that spiders – and other creepy crawlers – play vital roles in the circle of life, they eat other pesky species, blah blah blahhh… And that’s wonderful. But I do NOT want to see them, or even be aware of their existence. Ever.
Anyway. These types of common, everyday fears aren’t what I’m referring to when I say that we’re all afraid of something. I’m talking about the deep stuff. The fears that crucially impact our lives, hinder our happiness, and prevent us from taking those huge, unprotected leaps into the unknown when we have the opportunities to do so.
What are your REAL fears…? And how do you respond in the face of them?
I’m afraid that I’ll never make a living doing what I truly love – writing. My ultimate dream is to be able to support myself as a novelist, but that’s definitely a ‘best-case-may-never-happen’ scenario; and I accept that I’m reaching above and beyond the stars with that one. I’ll never stop trying, but I prefer to keep my expectations much lower than my hopes with this particular goal.
On a more earth-bound level, I’ve been applying for various writing jobs since I graduated from college – first in Albuquerque, then in San Francisco, and now here in Portland. My responses (when I receive them) are always the same:
“Thank you for your interest, but <this position> requires at least <this much> experience.”
Always. Never mind that I have a motherf*cking DEGREE in Creative Writing, and a sh!tload of talent – gotta have that experience, or you can’t even get an interview.
I LOVE how that works. We need experience to be considered for the jobs we desperately want, yet we can’t obtain the desired experience without being given the chance to do the work. I could rant for hours about this… But, I’ll spare you.
Point being, I’m afraid that I’m going to spend the rest of my life doing work that I happen to be very good at, but that I’m not passionate about. At all.
Don’t misunderstand me – I’ve had jobs that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed, and I’ve made some of the best friends of my life in the professional world. I wouldn’t change a single job I’ve had if it meant I had to also relinquish the people I’ve come to know and love through them.
Earning a paycheck by doing something that lights me up from the inside out, by doing a job that I can’t wait to do, and excel at naturally? That’s something I fear I’ll never get to experience.
And if I don’t get to experience it… Will I still be able to find contentment?
I’m afraid of losing the people I love. This is a tricky fear, because it’s inevitable – we allllllll die. As someone who has experienced an inordinate amount of loss already, I’m intimately familiar with how debilitating it is to lose a loved one.
Your world stops, your heart breaks, and you’re faced with the unwanted realization that your life has been forever altered without your consent. Nothing will ever be the same, and on the fly, you have to learn how to cope with that reality. I’ll tell you right now, it ain’t easy.
I’m terrified of losing my friends, my family, and the only parent I have left who is still breathing. It will happen – someday – and I can only hope I handle it with more grace than I have in the past.
When those dark days do come, I fear that ‘happiness’ will become harder and harder to find my way back to.
I was chatting with a friend recently, and he said something so poignant, so lovely, that it’s been with me ever since. I can hear his words echoing in my thoughts, almost hauntingly.
He said, “I’ll say goodnight to you, Molly, with the hope that the night holds you as gently as if you were in a lover’s arms.”
His sweet words resonated with me on many levels, most significantly because I’m afraid I’ll never know what that’s like – what he described.
I’ve been tenderly held by a man who was not my lover, although I wished he had been at the time. And the men who have pursued me in that aspect have been anything but gentle – quite the opposite, in fact. Forceful, fast, demanding, and clearly not interested in anything except what I had to offer physically. So the idea of being held, gently, by a lover – that’s foreign, uncharted territory.
I’m a hopeless romantic at heart, but I’m also intelligent enough to know that the world is not one of my cherished romance novels. By education and experience, I’m a pragmatist – and I’m aware that there are people who live their entire lives and never find a partner to share it with.
I’m afraid that I will be one of them. And if this is what’s meant for me, I’m afraid of always yearning for what I’ve never experienced.
Again, will I be able to find contentment if I’m meant to complete this journey as a solo warrior?
In contradiction, I must also reiterate (as I have many times) that I’m petrified of intimacy. I know, I infuriate even myself by craving something so fiercely, and yet fearing it so entirely. I worry about my intimacy fears claiming triumph, preventing me from leaping, unprotected, into that unknown.
So. Where does this leave me?
My instinct has always been to run. Run away, numb out, and compartmentalize like a pro. In recent years though, I have been making the choice to rise – to face my demons as they’ve come.
I pray for the continued strength to rise, especially in the face of these most prominent fears.
I’ve said it before on this blog, and I’m going to say it again: facing your fears doesn’t necessarily mean that you magically stop being afraid. The fears themselves may never truly vanish, but the important thing is standing tall, and facing them anyway.
The important thing, my friends, is to rise – not run.
What about you?