What are you afraid of? It's an interesting question because--we are all afraid of something. Even the toughest of people are afraid of something; a person can deny even their deepest fear--but in the end it's something we cannot run from.
Fear can come in many forms, and the notion of being 'afraid' of something starts when we are young. For example, when I was little, I was afraid of ghosts coming out of the closet. In order to protect myself from any mysterious creatures that might pop out in the middle of the night. I would sleep facing the wall, cover my entire body with the blanket--and wedge my face in between the wall and the mattress, so I could breathe. It became such a habit, that when I returned to this room a month ago, even at 25 years old I still sleep that way.
Yes, it is interesting to think about how my fears differ from when I was a child. As a child, I was this meek, insecure kid, trying to figure out where she belonged in the world. I know this is a story that many have, as most of our childhood is spent trying to figure out 'who we are.' Nevertheless, I think that I always had these 'nerdy' tendencies as a little girl. I was reading Titanic books, and teaching myself how to write hieroglyphics up in my room. I wore dockers and brown shoes for a good majority of my middle school years. I had big glasses and braces. I was always raising my hand (so much so, that one of my teachers told me to stop), and I was always trying to figure out who my friends were. In high school, I surrounded myself with academics and activities to keep myself busy. Yet, I really couldn't escape the way I felt. In grade school, they called me 'pug' because I had this smooshed in chubby little face with large glasses. Overly awkward in every way. In high school, they called me 'mini me' because I was short, plump---and sometimes overly chatty. I would pretty much talk to anyone, because the more friends I had---the less alone I felt in other ways. My fears in my middle/early high school days? Let's see. Needles, spiders, bad grades, being made fun of, letting my parents down.
Enter senior year...17 years of age.
April 20, 2005, 8:30pm--
In one moment, everything can change. When I look back on that night, and everything that followed Frenchy's accident, I changed so quickly and so much, it is hard for me to remember how I was before. With this loss, came the pressure to grow up--and quickly. It was like receiving a phone call with a recorded message from God:
Hello Alexandria, welcome to the real world. Yes, it does exist.
The real world. Our parents always threaten us with it, right? Especially when we take things for granted, they always seem to find a way to insert a comment about the real world, harsh realities and adulthood. As children, or teenagers we immediately roll our eyes and sigh with exasperation. It's all an act on our part, of course. To be frank, the idea of the 'real world' scares the shit out of us kids---and we'd just as soon live in our blissful childhood lives than address some of the things that await us in the future.
When a major event like losing someone occurs, our fears change. I'm not saying it takes losing someone for our fears to change--but what I am saying is that for me, losing someone changed my fears forever. Suddenly, human life didn't seem invincible, and the harsh reality that we all die reared it's ugly head.
College is the time of your life. New friends, new environment, new aspirations. In college, you're on top of the world. Your fears from high school to college also mutate to take a new form. Adulthood is that much closer, thus our fear of life starts to rear itself. Graduating from college is probably one of the proudest moments a person can experience, but it's bittersweet---especially in today's society. With college graduates facing high unemployment rates, our generation is faced with a very real truth: Things aren't always as easy as we think they're going to be. You see, we grew up and based our aspirations on the words of our parents and teachers:
If you do well in grade school and high school, you'll get into a good college. If you graduate from college, you will get a job!
If only it were that easy. I can't tell you many of my friends took jobs because they had no other choice. Honestly, I couldn't be happier in my career. I don't dread going to work every day, and I know that I can grow where I'm at. For me, fear of my job has dwindled into nothing--because thankfully I realized early that I can never go back. While my initial experience with teaching wasn't exactly positive, I don't know if I had the patience for it. I don't know where I would be right now, if I had a positive experience teaching. It wasn't the children...it was the district, the politics, the instability. I'm grateful, though---because I was able to conquer my fear. Fear of failure, fear of change and fear of the unknown.
Fear of the unknown.
In life, we don't know where we are going and where we are going to end up. While most of us would love to be able to plan our lives down to the minute, and then follow all of those plans through flawlessly. It's that sense of mystery that carries us through life. Just when we think we've got it figured out---something changes and sort of knocks us off the course. My father has always said, "We make plans, God laughs." There are many instances in the past where I really should have thought of, and understood this. I thought I have had it figured out for the past four years, at least. How naive of me, right?
What are you afraid of?
I'm afraid of me, I think. I'm afraid because I don't know who I am right now. I am sort of walking around, just doing the same things all of the time. It's pretty exhausting actually---for me and for others. With the fear of figuring out who I am, comes the fear of being alone. The fear of being inadequate, not for others, not for someone else, but inadequate to me. Right now, I am my biggest critic. Screw what everyone else thinks about me. I'm scared because I don't know how to love me, how to accept me---how to not be afraid of me. I've been afraid of spiders, needles, ghosts, fish in lakes, bridges and multiple other random things. However, for me to admit that I am afraid of me---not because I am some kind of monster---but because I don't ever think or care about 'me'....that is a big step.
So, right now I have to figure out how to conquer that fear. Let me get my shield and my sword out, it's gonna be a bumpy ride.