As many of you did, I spent this past weekend surrounded by ghosts, witches, ghouls, zombies, and skeletons. But as epic as many of the bloody wounds and prosthetics may have been, the Halloween season did not leave me with nightmares of the monsters under my bed, but rather the monsters in my own head. After an unseemly amount of reflection upon the things that truly scare me, I narrowed it down to a brief list.
I am terrified of…
- Running into Mark Cuban and not being able to pitch him on all my brilliant ideas. Ok... Maybe Shark Tank isn’t your favorite show, but imagine running into Ryan Gosling or Jennifer Aniston or Hilary Clinton and just staring at them while they wait for you to talk? That would be horrifying.
- Being wrongfully incarcerated. Innocent people go to prison every day. What if one day I’m in the wrong place at the wrong time?
- Clowns. Don’t make me elaborate on this one.
- Losing the people that I love. Waking up and not being able to call my sisters or my boyfriend or my best friend may be my biggest fear. Yes, death is a part of life and losing those we hold most dear is inevitable, but I still fear the phone call about a car accident or a heart attack or an unanticipated goodbye.
- Disappointing others. As much as I would like to say I don’t care what people think about me, I care a lot. I want to make my parents proud, I want to make my boss money, I want to make my clients happy, I want to keep my boyfriend entertained. These are not easy tasks, and I am bound to make mistakes.
- Disappointing myself. Maybe the only thing worse than disappointing those I adore, is disappointing myself. Managing expectations is difficult for me, and I am far less forgiving than those that love me.
- Not being a good mother. I don’t have children yet, but I hope to one day, and that thought is so overwhelmingly and so incomprehensible that it makes me want to crawl in a hole. I have an amazing mother, one who is strong and kind and loving and fierce and is my absolute best friend. But I worry, what if I can’t do what she did? What if I don’t read to my kid enough or I can’t protect them from bullies at school or I over/under vaccinate them?
- Narrow-mindedness. I worry that my perspective will be limited by my beliefs or experiences. I fear that I will not be open to all possibilities, and will limit both others and myself because of my inability to see the big picture.
- Not loving deeply enough. Every time I hang up the phone with my family we say, “Loveyoubye.” It’s one word and practically habitual. But there are times the verbiage seems too surface. Love is a complex, dynamic, ever-changing emotion. But it is also a choice. My prayer is that every day I am able to offer those in my most intimate relationships a deep, holistic love, however that is a lofty goal and I often fall short. I am terrified that I will not love those in my life the way they deserve to be loved.
- Not living every single day to the fullest. Sometimes I just want to stay in bed and watch Netflix with a pint of Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream, but I have this constant voice in my head saying that something incredible could be happening elsewhere. Even when at work (where I have to go so I can pay my rent and buy groceries) I feel like I should be out doing something bigger and better. This often leads me to not live in the moment. Dreaming about an “ideal” life is not living a perfect life.
But the longer I pondered these fears, the more I realized that these are (mostly) concurrent with the fears of humanity in general, in one form or another. Fear is an inhibiting factor in so many of our lives, and sitting around worrying about what could be or will be or might/maybe/one day/inevitably happen will only distract us from the goodness, possibility, and success that is within our grasp. I am not going to be a perfect mother, but I will love my children with everything I have to give. One day my loved ones will no longer all be on this earth, but I can love them wholeheartedly now. I will disappoint others many times over, but I will also wow them, fascinate them, and inspire them.
Fears are naturally occurring, but what if instead of viewing fear as something that cheapens our life, we take it and transform it into fuel to love harder, invest more, learn new things, and take chances? Fear reminds us that we are finite and we are fragile and life is short. But it's a good thing to be reminded of that! We need to remember that we don't have an unlimited amount of time or resources. So some fear is good fear. That fear of loss, fear of missing out? Learn to view it as a reminder to live hard. Live now. Love fully. Don't wait for later.
By acknowledging the existence of these fears, we bring them into the light of day. We let them serve as motivators rather than inhibitors, because after all, when the sun rises post Halloween, the powered sugar blood is just sticky and the ghosts are just bed sheets.
Until next time,