August 03, 2015

"We can easily forgive a child for being afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light." - Plato

There are so many quotes to describe fear, so many beautiful sayings by beautiful people with incredible viewpoints on life. It's strange that something as powerful and overwhelming as fear is something so universally experienced. It's not like fear is this completely revolutionary topic that has never been spoken about before, because it has. Fear has been psychologically picked to pieces and I think that the most common, explanation is the flight or fight response.

When fear strikes we call upon or primal instincts, and generally our instincts tell us to either strap on the boxing gloves and fight or turn around and bolt in the other direction. I don't entirely understand where this instinct comes from but I know that we experience it. We are shown it on television and in books but when I think back on my entire 18 years of life I have not once been told how to deal with fear. The general and stereotypical idea is "face your fears." We are meant to mirror the protagonist in all our favourite TV shows and books where they take on the bad guy and defeat them, getting the girl or the gold. But the thing is, that's fiction, it's a writer creating a world that doesn't exist where they have 100% control over what happens. From the perspective of an average person it's sometimes incredibly hard and often dangerous to mirror the values that we are subjected to our whole lives, we are left wondering what we are doing wrong and why we can't overcome our fear.

Generally speaking I usually run. I take flight and avoid my problems. Sometimes I run and never face them. Other times I run till I feel brave enough the face my fears. Then I'll run back and fight them. I'll fight for what I want and I won't let fear run my life. But when I do this, it's often too late. I've missed the opportunity to do something great all because I got scared. That's what bothers me the most about fear. Not the fact that it makes my body shake or that it makes me cry, I hate that it makes me miss out. It brings back the whole idea of 'FOMO' but ironically it's all connected. You're scared to say yes, so you turn down an offer then you're stuck with that fear of missing out, feeling like you're being left behind.

The thing about fear is that you remember what you're scared of but you can't remember feeling fear. I don't know whether this is some psychological, natural human response where we repress certain feelings but I can't remember feeling that feeling of being scared. I can remember moments and memories where I would've felt scared and afraid but I can't remember that tight feeling in my chest, where my palms beginning to sweat, my heart-rate skyrockets and my body begins to shake uncontrollably. I know that growing up I was scared of dogs and the dark but in those moments where I would've felt scared I don't remember what it physically feels like.
Did I have a different response to fear than what I do now? Was I brave and optimistically believed that I could face every fear?

At the end of the day we all want to know how do you stop feeling scared. We want to know how to you stop letting fear control our lives.

To tell you the truth I have no clue. I don't know why or how but sometimes fear controls my life and it stops me from doing the things I love with the people I love more than anything in the world. I let my fears become so much bigger than they are, and it's not right. Fear should not have that much power of an individual. Being scared is a state of mind not a physical barrier, and I think that taking the time to acknowledge that is the first step in facing your fears. I don't know anyone who is completely fearless. Everyone I know is afraid of something and even though that's what makes us human many people fight fear. They think it's a sign of weakness.

I don't know how much about fear, but what I do know and believe is that we are given a choice.
We are given the choice to fight or take flight.



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