Conquering Your Fears

I believe everyone is afraid of something. Maybe it’s the body builder/bouncer who is afraid of mice. Maybe it’s the housewife who is afraid of the smallest spider. Perhaps it’s the mailman who is afraid of snow chains. Maybe even it’s the surfer who is afraid of getting thumped. Everywhere, everyday, someone faces his or her fear. It happens all the time. People survive those face offs and live to see another day. Sometimes the fear was unfounded, while at other times it may be very well-deserved. For me, I have several fears. Some are silly, and some are very real, at least to me.

I am afraid of heights and scary noises in a dark space. These come, I believe, from a combination of all the stupid 80s horror movies I watched with my friends when I was growing up plus the fact that my family knew of my fears and encouraged them. I don’t mean this in a bad wag, I just mean that instead of telling me the there was nothing hiding under my bed, they instead told me and my imaginary fear friend that there more than likely was something hiding under the bed. I am sure it was meant to be funny, but I guess it stayed with me, as I still think sometimes that there is something hiding under the bed.  Although I’m not positive about where my fear of heights came, I think it is just something that I have. I can go up in tall buildings, but I don’t like anything with a railing that appears in anyway to be unsteady. I could never climb a mountain, be a window washer, or build a tall bridge  like the Golden Gate.

I’m also a bit afraid of snakes, spiders, and other such gross creatures. I know there are people out there who like them, and I know that they all have their place in the circle of life, but I just don’t really want them to be in my circle.

I am also afraid of bad drivers. I don’t ride with anyone I don’t trust to drive, unless it is someone I can’t really choose, like a bus, train, airplane, or cab driver. With those, I just have to hope for the best.  I know that th fear comes from the fact that I have lost several friends to car wrecks.  Not one of them was due to drinking and driving or even texting, which makes it worse because they were all just feel accidents. Uncontrollable, unpredictable, an unexpected. So something  that, of course, worries me to no end when someone else is driving. I keep my mouth shut most of the time, but sometimes it’s really difficult.

I am afraid of being poor again. I grew up without a lot of money, although we always had the necessities and more. We didn’t have designer clothes, didn’t drive newer cars, and did not buy name brand groceries. We lived in a rent house, so I could never paint my room or really think of it as my own space. Our landlord was a very nice farmer who, as far as I know, never raised our rent in the tenor so years that we lived there. It was not a bad way to grow up, and it, and it made me appreciate the things I had.  I had many friends in my hometown who grew up with money. Their families were town legacies, they owned large farms and land, and their parents were college-educated.  I was not in that group, although the town was so small that everyone was just a boy everyone’s friend, because you either had to be or have no friends!  When I go  out on my own, I married a guy who I believed would be a good provider. His family was well-placed, and his dad was very successful. He, however, didn’t share his dad’s drive. I ended up being the main breadwinner, and sometimes the only real breadwinner, since he never made over $11 an hour the entire time we were married. Owning my own home was very important  to me, since I had not had that option when I was growing up.  I wanted to drive a dependable car, one the didn’t always need a new battery, have a flat tire, or have some other expensive part to replace that I could not afford.  I wanted to travel. I had the bug for my entire life, and I wanted to see the world. I knew th a being married to him also meant that unless I got a really big raise, I would never get to realize that final piece of the dream.  We were poor, really. I had a $5 couch in my living room. It was covered sort of in a hideous orange itchy fabric and was purchased on the last day of an estate sale, on clearance from $10 to $5, most likely because it was too ugly to sell to anyone else. We once had $7 in our checking account to last us all week, with a 2-year old at home. Thank goodness my stupid car didn’t choose that week to break down. With no credit cards and no savings, I guess I would have been walking to work.

I went to college, got a job, and started to work. I watched many other friends go to grad school, take time off to go to Europe, and move into homes of their own. I was stuck trying to make ends meet. For someone with a 3.7 GPS in college and graduating 3rd out of 73 in high school, this was not at all how I had planned for my life to pan out.  I eventually got out of the marriage and forged my way.

I don’t ever want to have that feeling again. I’m older and wiser now, and I have opportunities because  of education and connections, but the fear is real and it I still there, in the background. It’s something I deal with nearly every day. I am frugal to a fail, and sometimes our kids don’t understand why. I hope they never have to understand that first-hand, although there is something to be said about appreciating the ability to .and it when you’re poor.

All I can say about fear is that you have to face your fears. You cannot let then paralyze you, where you become a person you didn’t know you would fall to be. We went to see The Secret Life of Walter Mitty on Christmas. I truly felt like it spoke to me. I was formerly Walter Nitty, paralyzed by fear of moving ahead with my dreams.  I dreamed, ok. I would play out the scenarios in my mind, as well, like Mitty. I never acted on them, though. Then, one day, I did.  It was amazing. I have not gotten over all my fears. There are these, and others, that I still harbor. But, at least I had the courage to attempt dome of the things I was afraid of doing. Now, I just have to conquer the others.

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