What are you afraid of?
I was pretty fearless when I was younger. I went on all of the roller coasters, even the ones that went upside down! I would try almost any food and, according to my mother, liked just about everything. I auditioned for (and landed) roles in school and camp plays. I collected caterpillars and let them crawl up my arm. I went to summer camp not knowing a soul and came out with great friends. At nine years old, I had a crush on a boy in camp and so did another girl in my group. Despite rumors that the boy liked my campmate, I expressed my interest and it turned out the boy liked me back! My first boyfriend 🙂 Basically, I was up for any challenge. There were a few exceptions. I went through a weird stage where I adopted other people’s fears as my own, and I spent a couple of months terrified of bridges. I stole the fear from Jennifer Davidson during our sixth grade trip to Washington D.C. and my mom still brings it up on occasion. But for the most part, fear wasn’t really part of my vocabulary.
As I hit my teens, I was not quite so courageous. I stopped going on the roller coasters for a few years, became too self-conscious to follow my passion for acting, and was too afraid of what other people might think of me to express my true feelings or stand up for myself.
I’ve never recovered my bravery toward performing in public aside from Karaoke in groups, but I’m back to going on the “scary” rides (except for the REALLY frightening ones), learning to embrace speaking in public (kind of a necessity as an author), and I definitely do not cower away from defending myself when necessary. I care what some people think of me, but only the people whose opinions I actually respect. In short, I’m no longer afraid to be myself.
But I’m still afraid of a lot of things. For example:
My mother dying – She’s healthy, knock wood, and not exactly ancient, but whenever I think about it, I start to cry. I even had a panic attack in the shower the other morning. (I know you’re reading this, Mommy, and I’m sorry I brought it up. I love you and wish you the happiest of birthdays!!)
My sister dying – Apologies for the morbid trend here. I don’t worry about this on a regular basis at all, but when I do, it’s a doozy. I can’t imagine my life without her in it.
Driving – I had my driver’s license back in the day—only took me three tests—but I let it expire by accident. I was never comfortable behind the wheel and haven’t done it in close to twenty years. I probably should take lessons again, but I don’t want to. I have chronic nightmares about being behind the wheel and losing control.
Living without Alan – I’m panic-stricken over being forced to go my entire life without ever seeing, speaking to, or hugging my best friend/boss/mentor/cheerleader/shrink outside of my dreams. I miss him so much, it physically aches, so I can still only think short term—today, tomorrow, or the next day.
Never meeting “The One” – I’ve always assumed when the timing was (finally) right, I’d meet “The One” for the long haul at last—the man I want to spend the rest of my life with who feels the same way about me—but between the wrong guys and the unavailable ones, it’s like searching for cellphone service in 1979.
Meeting “The One” – As much as I want to commit fully to someone, I’m terrified I’ll feel smothered or find it difficult to balance the freedom and lifestyle to which I’ve become accustomed with my new coupled life. I hope giving up some independence will be worth it for the right person.
Losing my ability to write – Whenever I’m going through a tough time, writing makes me feel better. It’s really the one thing I can do that is guaranteed to wash away stress from my “real life.” I don’t know what I would do if something happened that prevented me from writing. What if I went blind or suffered from permanent writer’s block, or some other brain malfunction?
Cancer – Getting it, my family getting, my friends getting it.
Getting old – I’d much prefer aging to the alternative, but I dread the aging process—wrinkly skin, sagging neck, losing muscle tone despite working out five-six times a week, inability to stand up straight, people treating me like I’m a non-entity or a sweet old lady, losing my faculties. My grandmother told me after the age of twenty, life moves really fast and she was so right. Although every Monday, I wish Friday will come quickly, I don’t want life to pass me by!
Becoming invisible to the opposite sex – I’m not ashamed to admit I enjoy attention from men. I like being flirted with and checked out. I don’t know if I will ever get to a point where I don’t care what I look like or whether others find me attractive and so the aging process (see above) scares me.
Dying – I don’t want to! Maybe if I knew what happened after we left the physical world, I wouldn’t be so afraid. Experiences I’ve had in the last year have convinced me that there is something else, but I don’t know what it is and hope not to find out for a long, long time.
Those are the major things on my list. What are you most afraid of?
WOW, Meri. Wow. I’m so sorry you have these fears, because they can be crippling. Fears about death are normal, of course. I miss my parents every day but am so grateful to have had them. I’ve lost friends, too, and it’s hard, yes, but fond memories will comfort you in the darkest times, I hope.
I guess faith for me enables me to cope with those losses – the very firm belief that I will be reunited with my loved ones again.
Lucky you for not having to drive! No, seriously. It’s awful.
I’ve got 15 years on you, and the physical changes in my face, hair, and body are hard to see! But really, what’s the alternative? The passage of time seems to go at warp speed after 40, so all you can do is enjoy the ride. It’s a wonderful, speedy ride.
So….I don’t fear death or aging. But I agree with you that if I was unable to write, if the story Ida’s ended, if the sentences couldn’t be formulated, I’d be devastated.
Wishing you much love.
Thank you, Martha – these fears don’t keep me up at night, thankfully. But when I think too hard about them, it can be super scary. You have a great attitude toward aging – I will try to adopt it and enjoy the speedy ride. I do like roller coasters again, so it shouldn’t be too difficult!
I am afraid of open stairways, of being up high, of roller coasters (but I do on occasion side them with my children or grandchildren), and of being caught in a burning building. Most of all I am afraid of living the rest of my life without my middle son who passed away 11 years ago and of losing my other sons or grandchildren.
I can understand being afraid of losing your children after having experienced it once before. I’m so sorry it happened and I pray it does not happen again! And it’s very nice of you to go on the roller coasters with your grandchildren even though you’re afraid 🙂
Thank you for you gentle words, Meredith.
The coasters aren’t so bad once you get past the big hills. I’m always convinced I’ll have a heart attack going down the first one. LOL
Do not regret getting older… it’s a privilege denied to many.
More power on your Chic Lit writing! 🙂