Let’s Talk: Identifying Your Fears

I have this “Question of the Day” journal that I started using back in March and one of the recent questions was: “What are you most afraid of?” It’s a good question to ask because the answer can change over time and that’s the whole point of this journal. (I’m supposed to answer the same question on the same day every year for five years and see if things change.) Usually these questions are easy to answer like, “Who was the last person you called?” or “What’s your favorite color?” but this one made me think.

My immediate instinct was to say spiders because those little suckers are disgusting and they honestly do freak me out, but after a while I finally wrote down

“I am more scared of not knowing whether or not I’m going to fall than I am of actually falling.”

While writing that, I was thinking back to a time last year when I went to a ropes course with my sorority sisters for a chapter retreat. The camp we went to had this multistory high ropes course that you worked your way up over the course of the day and it got increasingly difficult as you progressed. The whole point was to bond and build teamwork, but mostly it was just a fun afternoon with sisters and so I still think about it a little.

Now, I’m not afraid of heights. I don’t like them much, but I’m not afraid of them. So about 98% of the day’s activities didn’t bother me at all. But there was one moment that made my heart drop down into my stomach.

On one side of the ropes course was a series of platforms that served as the main structure to which everything else was attached. It was very sturdy and fenced in on all sides so no one had to be clipped into anything while waiting there, unlike the rest of the course. But to get onto the course itself, we had to climb over the little fence surrounding the platform – without the harness clipped to the safety ropes, yet. There was always a staff member there waiting, but for those two seconds between climbing over the fence and being clipped in, I didn’t have a 100% guarantee that I wouldn’t fall. That uncertainty, more than actually falling, terrified me.

I can jump off a platform strapped to a zip line, ride a rollercoaster, or even see myself skydiving (I haven’t been yet) because in those situations I know I’m going to fall. I’m mentally and physically prepared to feel the rush of air in my face and watch the trees rush by as the ground comes up to meet me. But this fear of mine isn’t really about heights; it’s about not knowing what’s going to happen. I’m more scared of not knowing what’s in my future than I am of actually facing the problem head on and I  know that I’m not alone in this fear.

It’s not unusual to mistake one fear for something else. Often times people believe that they’re scared of one thing when in reality the center of the issue is something entirely different. My mom always used to say that she was afraid of heights, but it wasn’t really being high up that she was afraid of – it was falling. Identifying my fears for what they truly are is one of the most important steps that I can take to get past them. Ideally, if I can learn to accept my fear of the unknown, then I can stop letting it hold me back.

So what are you really afraid of? Let me know in the comments down below!

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