I am still scared of that invisible shark in the pool. Except, for me, it’s more of a weird, slimy sea monster with lots of long arms and tentacles for fingers. Maybe I read too much Harry Potter as a kid? So, if I’m ever alone in the pool and venture out into the deep end, I start to feel those tentacle-fingers on my ankles coaxing me down, and I inevitably find myself splashing back to shore, gasping for air.
Anyone else still have this problem?
Kids are fascinated by their fears. I for sure was afraid of a lot–dogs, spiders, clowns (but, let’s be real; clowns are terrifying.) It’s accepted with kids because they’re small and are allowed to be afraid. Then, they grow up, and for a lot of people, their fears grow with them.
Here’s the thing: adults are not supposed to be afraid. Many people just assume that they’re cowardly because they never “outgrow” those fears from childhood. Anyone else still afraid of the toe-eating monster under the bed who awakens, starving, at night, waiting for you to dangle your feet over the side of the bed? When you grow up, you’re supposed to stop listening to your imagination- you’re supposed to stop being afraid.
If you are afraid, it does not mean that you are cowardly. In fact, quite the opposite. When you are afraid, you have to be proportionately braver. We all know the sayings that tell you how courage is not the absence of fear, but doing what is right in spite of fear.
Here’s where you need to start asking yourself some questions. Are you letting your fears control you? Are you letting them steamroll over your values? For me, I had to make the choice that my values are stronger than my fears- and, once I made that decision, my fears seemed to shrink. My imagination is still there, vivid and technicolor as ever, but I don’t let my fears control my thoughts or my actions anymore. Instead, when they show up, I figure out why I’m sensing danger. It has become an ally, a danger alarm. The more I’ve faced these fears, the more I’ve realized that it’s my brain trying to protect me.
Today, October 16th, is National Face Your Fears Day. Funny it’s in October. I invite you to face a fear with me today. It could be something from trying a new food to going skydiving. I want you all to feel the freedom that I now feel since I have actively started facing my fears.
Here is my message to you all: it is ok to be afraid. Sometimes, it’s even necessary. But your thoughts and fears do not have to control your life. It took a while, but I am now comfortable with the feeling of fear. I am ok with being afraid of the damn shark-octopus-grindylow thing in the pool because I know that it’s just my brain trying to protect me.
Leave a comment about what fear you faced today, or about the biggest fear you’ve ever had to face. I am here for you! Let’s all support each other and give some much-needed love to our fears!
Previously published on Words Between Coasts