Facing Fears

This is a short one. It’s pretty straightforward, and something I didn’t really do on purpose; it just kind of happened. At some point in my life, I have had to face all the fears that it’s been physically possible for me to face, and it’s been relatively important to the process of bettering myself.

List of things I either still do or at least did fear, that I have faced head-on:

Change

Spiders

Dentists

Needles

Heights

Planes

Things flying at my head (that sounds more rational than it is, I promise)

Elevators

Crowds

 

Now, I would like to point out that I wouldn’t call most of those phobias (dentists and spiders being the only exceptions); they’re just things that if I could, I would avoid, because fuck needles. I’m a bit of a walking contradiction; show me someone with intent to kill me and I’ll take them head-on without a second thought, but when it’s things that I rationally know won’t likely hurt me, I’m a fucking coward.

I have not actually overcome most of these fears by any stretch of the imagination. I enjoy flying now, whereas when I was a kid I was scared of planes, and after not reasonably being able to take the stairs in my apartment building, I got pretty damn used to elevators…but other than that, I can still get pretty jumpy. It’s kind of pathetic. Sometimes I’m good at hiding it, other times, no. It’s pretty obvious. I was very high-strung as a kid, and I’ve relaxed a lot as an adult, but if something gets me on edge, it’s pretty difficult for me to pretend to be calm. I feel like I should be more ashamed of that fact than I actually am.

None of these fears were faced because I wanted to face them; all of them happened because I got backed into a corner. I wanted to spend time with a friend who lived too far to reasonably use any method of transportation but a plane, so I hopped on a plane for the first time in 20 years. Now I fly every chance I get. I lived alone in a trailer for six months, and trailers get a lot of bugs, so I had to kill a lot of spiders or just never sleep again. I needed dental surgery, or I would have died a fast but incredibly painful death. That kind of thing.

This isn’t really about overcoming fears. If you do that, awesome! But for me, being forced to face these fears did make me slightly less anxious and stressed out. Every time I realized I had survived facing a fear again, it acted as a reminder that I was able to do something that terrified me. Every time I survived another trip to the dentist – even though my fight or flight reflex would kick in and the dentists have no idea how close they came to getting kneed in the stomach – it was another bit of proof that I could do things. If I could do that thing that scared me, I could try something new. If I could survive facing that fear, I could survive facing this one.

Facing a fear reminds me that I can. On days when I’m not sure I can face the day, I remember what else I’ve faced and how hard that was, and how I still fucking did it, goddammit. I am strong enough. I have proof. It doesn’t matter that the fear is objectively ridiculous; the power of the emotion it evokes is not. No matter how stupid the fear is, the fear itself is real, and it’s strong, but when you face that fear, you are proving that you are stronger. Even if only a tiny bit.

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