Extreme fear can neither fight nor flyShakespeare
A few days ago a friend of mine came up to me and as unpredictable as they can be, casually asked, ” Vera, wewe ni mwoga (are you a fearful person)?” My first instinct was to respond defensively…which i did, ofcourse! Now before you crucify my rashness hear me out 🙂 Deep down i trusted my gut feeling that he was just taunting me for backing down from a challenge (I rarely back down or quit easily).
So, did I actually deny the charge? My mind was preoccupied with analyzing the motivations behind this inquisition; do I appear timid, scared, afraid…? Isn’t it a sign of weakness? I, too, was surprised when I nodded slowly and admitted that, yes, I am afraid at times. Actually, I was at the time! He smiles cunningly, as if he can see the clouded judgment I’m trying so hard to hide while staring down at me. A brief exchange of silence. Options are being considered. Sentiments. Eventually drops it
Psychology does presume that if you want someone to think about something or even do it, tell them to do the opposite. That’s exactly what’s been going on in my mind lately…a lot of self-reflection, self-cross examination, lots of introspection. Am I afraid? Of what essentially? How do I deal with it? Is it necessarily a bad thing?
As my family’s eldest child, I guess it’s automatically expected of me to be a stronghold. A firm foundation. A pacesetter and rarely shows room for weakness or failure…not saying that’s how it’s supposed to be. Still, I’ve always felt that’s an unuttered expectation hanging around the necks of ‘deputy parents’. As an older sibling, were you pampered enough? Would you say you were babied enough?
One thing I was afraid of is failure while younger (well, I know its inevitable but…). Since I was little I tried as much as I could humanly possible not to make mistakes. Always strived for perfection. I have my Dad to thank for that. He was a little strict (my brothers can testify). He would spare nothing to ensure we were all excellent in most things, especially academics. physically I’m presentable. I fondly remember my books were not allowed to have ‘ears’ (creases at the edges of the pages). I feared failure because I never wanted to be a disappointment, especially to my Dad. But did I ever fail? Of course, severally so!
Acknowledging fear takes the sting out of it. Resisting or denying fear makes it lurk by your side constantly.Dr. Christine Bradstreet
What we are afraid of can catapult us into facing it and overcoming it, or entirely numb us knock us out senseless into zombies that are terrified to even try. Personally I don’t take offense when my friends laugh at me that I don’t know how to swim, I mean I guess they wont understand that some of us are just hydrophobic. But this isn’t some lame excuse for me not to try…I desire to overcome it and one day swim away like a fish too!
I’m terrified of creepy crawlies and huge animals with horns. The turkey give me chills every time I walk close to it. All this are conditioned in my mind as flight mechanisms because I had some pretty bad experiences with all the above while I was a little girl. So my mind automatically screams danger when I come across similar situations, even though nothing bad will necessarily happen.
My fears, well they are quite a number, come to think of it. But we wont dwell on them entirely. One thing i want to be understood crystal clear, being afraid is not a sign of weakness. Well i wont say its a sign of valiance either…its an emotion. Natural feeling to be precise. it does help us cope with our external stimuli aka environment. It can give leeway to flight or fight… what’s your style?
Have i overcome all of them? definitely not. Most of them? Yes…lets say a work in progress. Point is, acknowledging fear and understanding the emotion is the first step of overcoming it. It can come across as cowardly to others not so much fretful, but be tender and kind with yourself. Introspect closely, admit the feeling and learn to control it rather than let it control you.
What are you afraid of ?