Why do we let our lives be controlled by fear? Why is fear such a prevalent human emotion? Or is it only prevalent in the US because so much of the media and advertising are fear-mongering? I feel like too many people let fear dictate who they are, what they do, and who they know. Or maybe we just don’t know how to stand up to fear. Fears of rejection and fears of being alone. Gather up enough fears together and you have created depression. Fear monger enough and you create such a deep divide that people are afraid of other people who are not alike to them in every way. And fear becomes anger and stupidity and, well, enough about the state of our politics in the US (or the goals of the “Tea Party” or whatever).
But. We need to stop being afraid. Of anything and everything. Or rather, we need to overcome those fears. Easier said than done. What if we all identified each other by our fears? We walked around with name tags that said “dark,” “loneliness,” “social situations,” “flying,” “moving,” “starting over”…… I wonder if our fears are also our secrets. If we deny our fears the secrecy they seek, can we overcome them? Unless it is the other way around and we are also afraid of our secrets. I wish I knew more about psychology, I wonder what part of the brain produces the chemicals that induce fear? Is there ever a way to overcome fears fully? (I’m certain there is, although some may need more help than others.)
I do know I have overcome some of my more corporeal fears. I am much less afraid of heights (sometimes I feel like a bit of a daredevil on the ladder at my work-in comparison to what I was once afraid to do). Sometimes we self-medicate our fears away (pick your vice, cigarettes, coffee, alcohol, marijuana, the list goes on). I mean, brand new social situations are always a little bit easier with a few drinks. Hard conversations are always a little bit easier to have after a cocktail. Or practice. Practice in these situations helps too.
It connects to that feeling of impossibility. It always feels so impossible to start those pivotal conversations in our lives, or the confrontational ones (which may be equally pivotal). “I’m in love with you,” “Let’s start seeing other people,” “I can’t believe you did x and y.” The depressing news is also a hard one, “I have cancer,” “We’re getting a divorce,” “Your dog died.” Fear and uncertainty are easily woven into all of those conversations. We are equally afraid of gaining love as we are of losing it. We are afraid of confrontation and being confronted. We are afraid of disease, change, and death.
I think FDR was right–in the end we are afraid of fear, and the feeling we get when we are afraid. If you are able to stand up to that bully Fear and knock your fears into submission, so many wonderful things are possible. Positive emotions, feelings, and experiences. Or healing- also vitally important. Getting to know others instead of fearing them. Compromising instead of fear mongering. Even Star Trek is trying to help out here, “Things are only impossible until they’re not.” Maybe we think too much and don’t do enough. I just need to figure out what direction I want to start going and I’ll start my own path. Maybe we all just need our fairy godmothers to give us a little push. To whisper, “It’s okay to be afraid, but you must go anyway. You must create anyway. You must have the conversation anyway. You must tell the truth anyway.” I mean, a Sorting Hat can only take you so far, then it’s up to you to decide- Gryffindor, or Slytherin?
In the end, every choice we make is our own. We should not let fear command the choices we make.