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It’s Okay To Be Afraid

September 7, 2014

I’m a little knackered right now (mmm….Britishy) so this may or may not come off as rambly, preachy, or a little bit of both.

However, I think it must be stressed that even as an adult that it’s alright to be afraid of things. When I entered into the club of adulthood I thought, ‘Old fears are supposed to go away,’ but they never did. Maybe I was naive. Maybe I’m supid. Or maybe I was dropped on my head as a child and as a consequence had a very warped view of adulthood. Either way it doesn’t change the fact that fears never really go away and if you’re a really shy and skittish person, they only go over to newer and more interesting things to be afraid of.

I tend to think that’s a lesson that a lot of us are taught about being an adult: you’re not supposed to be afraid. Or at least not to outwardly show it and I think that as a result that does give more anxiety to a person than would otherwise be necessary. Take for instance panic attacks: one of the things about panic attacks is that you’ll have one in public where everyone can see you flip your shit. Why is that? Because you’re showing fear, you are not being the ideal form of an adult. You’ve failed in some way. Or at least that’s how I read it.

That’s how I’ve felt a lot of times. If you’re a child you can get away with this because histrionics are a normal part of childhood, or at least within an acceptable level. If you’re an adult you’re kind of fucked. Now, I may be reading this the wrong way, but that’s the conclusion I’ve come to. No one ever tells you that it’s okay to be afraid. That the unknown is scary and messy. You just have to sort of hope and pray that you do figure this out before it sinks you.

I’m afraid. I’m afraid a lot and afraid of my panic attacks, mostly, but we’re starting to be best buds. And these things don’t get easier but you can manage them with some logic. While your chances of death increase with age you are more likely to survive today than die. But what about all those diseases and car accidents, you say. Car accidents are less now than they were. And disease…well, there’s no guarantee you won’t get sick, but it’s very unlikely.

The trick is to keep in mind that anxiety is always about the future and past and to stay in the present. I keep repeating that, but it’s true and it grounds me very well. I also go to therapy to get the shit out of my head that seems to clog my thoughts. Oh yeah, fuck that stigma against seeking help, too.

That’s another fear as an adult: the fear of going to therapy. I’ll admit it does have a stigma to it, but it shouldn’t, because it’s no different than going to a doctor. Like I said: if you’re a child you can go to this without any fear of being stigmatized. However, when you’re an adult and you say you’re in therapy…well, you might as well have said you eat babies with a fine wine.

It’s not right and it’s very…ahem…childish. ‘You go to help for emotional problems? That’s just worse than being Hitler.’ So yeah, if you have any thing mentally or emotionally that ails you, just go seek help for it. I did. It’s how I stay so damn jolly.

Tangent aside: I’m afraid. I’m afraid of death, the unknown, and women. Women probably scare me more than death ever could, because rejection feels like death—emotional death, anyway. I remember very vividly as a child my first experience with death: I was about…7, my grandmother had died and I went to the funeral with my parents and my brother. Not sure why. But I do remember walking up to her open casket and poking her cheek with my index finger and quite literally feeling the icy chill of death.

Aaand that was the first time I learned that death was pretty final and pretty scary. I didn’t really think of it all that much afterward, but it left a mark and now I’m deeply afraid of dying as I get older. Every time I think of it I get almost panicky. I’m uncomfortable with the notion that one day I will cease to be me. Where was I? Oh yes, being afraid of things. Really, a lot of what motivates me is that fear of being the icy person in the wooden box.

Women are worse. I can’t approach a woman to save my life without feeling like I’m going to faint. Sure, I can talk to them on a friendly level, but any deeper than that and I freeze. I took a chance today. I asked a woman that works at the local supermarket for their name so I could add them on facebook. In my head I was screaming. Keep in mind, this was just so I could talk to them more and get to know them. I’ve never done that, but I succeeded.

It’s okay to be afraid, but you mustn’t let that fear keep you from enjoying things and being yourself. Even if you have to tell your friends, colleagues, significant others, etc. That you are afraid and to give voice to your fears. This shit is like a fungus: it will grow exponentially unless there’s a light shined upon it.

So what have we learned: fear is good, it’s okay to admit when you’re afraid, and get help if the fear overwhelms or depresses you. Told ya it’d be a little rambly and a little preachy.

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