Last night, someone asked me again, “what do you fear the most?”
“I’m scared of tsunamis,” I said.
“I’m scared of fish,” he said.
“A particular fish?” I asked.
“No, just a fish,” he said.
Our fears are like little metal souvenirs, we keep locked in a secret box. We collect them over the journey of life and want absolutely no one to see it.
Souvenirs are nice. They are all so different. There’s a heartbreak souvenir, an abuse souvenir and then there’s a “duck-watching-you” souvenir! (seriously)
People are scared of a variety of things. Here is a sample list, I’ll start with the normal ones:
- Fear of long words: Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia (The irony!)
- Fear of holes –Trypophobia (A hole lot of anxiety, man!)
- Fear of crossing the street: Agyrophobia (Do they like The Beatles?)
- Fear of one’s mother-in-law: Pentheraphobia (Ahem!)
- Fear of Dinner-table conversation: Deipnophobia (Eat and let eat. In silence.)
- Fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouth – Arachibutyrophobia (Should try some jelly for lubrication)
So, if you thought your souvenir was silly or was too big to be brought out, I’d urge you to rethink that. There are people in the world confessing to being scared of a duck that’s watching them, c’mon!
Over time, souvenirs rust and become heavy. As the box keeps filling up and getting heavier, we start to wrap it in shackles of defense mechanisms, trying to keep the box from sinking.
The truth is, you’re going to have to empty the box to keep it from sinking.
Sometimes, there’s way too much sentiment attached to these souvenirs. But if you’re not going to throw some of these away, how are you going to be able to make space for more souvenirs?
Souvenirs are nice. I like to carry them in a backpack. I like to call it luggage, not baggage.
I think of it like this:
When you’re going camping, you’d want to carry bug spray and a good pair of shoes. Your spray didn’t help kill the ginormous tarantula? You might want to run. That’s when you’ll need the shoes!
Fear is good. How? Take it from Dr. F. Emelia Sam:
We have a tendency to dismiss fear as weakness, but it’s not that simple. Over the years, I’ve come to understand fear as incredibly useful…
When we’ve established that life indeed is not in danger, fear becomes useful in a very different way.
We often become accustomed to our way of being- even if it’s an existence that is less than the one we desire. We restrict ourselves for a variety of reasons, real or imagined.
Close examination of many of those reasons has fear at the foundation. Personal growth requires expansion and that can be terrifying. Whether you aim to be more vulnerable, more loving, or more financially stable, it will require a shifting of your mindset and breaking of previously established barriers.
In these scenarios, fear often points us to areas we need to investigate more closely. Though our instinct may be to flee, this type of fear is much-needed guidance.
In conclusion, fear itself isn’t a problem. Our reaction to our own fears is the issue. In making fear an adversary, we miss the challenge of deciphering the message that is being sent to us. When we choose to make it an ally, we gain so much more.
The whole point is to travel light. Keep the souvenirs in a backpack. Carry it around without worry or shame. If someone asks what’s in your backpack, show them, share them. Get rid of them when you must.
Souvenirs are nice. Mine is a big wave. But that doesn’t stop me from going to a beach.
“You should fry the fish and eat it,” I said.