Life is scary, no doubt about that, and some of us are more scared than others.
I’m braver than I used to be.
As a child, I was afraid to talk to people. I was afraid of confrontation. I was afraid my friends would see my drunken father. I was afraid that my mother, who didn’t seem to be afraid of anything other than running out of cigarettes, would embarrass me. I was afraid of spiders and that my dog would die.
As a teenager, I was afraid of looking foolish. I was afraid of dying a virgin, and of getting pregnant. I was afraid that my breasts would never grow, that my face would never clear, that I’d never be loved.
As an adult, I was afraid I’d lose my job, then lose my house. I was afraid I’d die alone. I was afraid of axe murderers, of rapists, of Atomic wars. I was afraid of fucking up.
Now, I’m still afraid of dying alone and I don’t like bugs, but the other stuff, not so much. Well okay, let’s be honest. I’m still afraid of confrontations.
I have concerns, sure. And I take precautions, such as locking my car doors when I drive and not walking around alone after dark. I don’t get drunk in public or open emails from people I don’t know. I don’t over share on social media.
I try not to be afraid. Fear stagnates. It keeps a person from trying. It actually gives us permission not to try.
I was afraid of writing because I was too young, too fat, too white, too middle class, too dull, too moderate. To uninformed. I was afraid of taking up too much space.
I was afraid to excel, because maybe I couldn’t. If I tried my best, what if that wasn’t good enough. It was the same with finding love. What if I lost weight, got rid of the pimples, learned to talk to people and still no one would love me.
I have friends who won’t open their drapes, because someone might look at them. One friend sees portents of death in the cawing of crows. She dreads Halloween, because someone always dies. Not someone she knows necessarily, just someone, somewhere.
Fear kills. How many people don’t see a doctor for that irregular mole or persistent cough because not knowing is less scary than finding out that something is real. Waiting until it’s too late.
Life is scary, that’s for sure, but now that I’m in my 60’s, here’s my thing: I’m not going to be afraid of things I can’t control. I refuse to be afraid of terrorists. Or Ebola. Or even zombies and Donald Trump.
I’ll stay afraid of June bugs, because they’re nasty and creepy and I can kill them. Eventually. Even though they crunch, which really icks me out. I’ll keep the exterminator, because he keeps me safe from mice and spiders. I’ll shred documents with my name on them, and keep my virus protection current, both in me and my devices.
I’m no longer afraid about being too fat to write or be seen in public or get a massage or have an opinion.
I’ll work on the fat thing for my knees and my health, not because I want someone to like me. I’ll be prudent, and mostly careful.
But I won’t be scared.