Fear itself is less powerful

I have been thinking about fear . It’s probably the biggest theme of my life the past few years. I’ve thought about it in terms of speaking out, but there is also another kind of fear. It’s plain phobia and it can feel symbolic–will you overcome it? Are you a brave person? But what if overcoming doesn’t matter as much you think it does?

I haven’t seen a lot of writing on this topic so I was glad to come across this one.

Who Agrees That Swimming in the Ocean is Scary?

I relate to this piece about overcoming a singular fear. It can feel like that fear defines you. No matter how many things you have overcome, if you still have not done that one thing, you are deficient.

But maybe that one fear doesn’t deserve so much power. Even if you never conquer that fear, it doesn’t make you less. The catch-22 is that you don’t learn that until you conquer your fear.

I loved this piece about going swimming in the ocean. One bad experience can traumatize you and make you never want to go in there again. This sentence captures how I feel about going in a classroom or going on a drop tower.

There’s a reason I feel so much dread, like an instinct that recognizes my eventual end.

It might sound too dramatic to bystanders but it truly does feel like you will die. If not die, then it is deeply uncomfortable.

However, I didn’t want this one thing to define me, no matter how irrational it is. So I went and did it. And it was scary and empowering. But it also didn’t feel amazing or good to conquer your fear. At the end of the day, fears are probably not all that powerful.

This moment, squinting and chilly as I bob and float, is pretty anticlimactic. It’s fine. It’s kind of fun. I’m glad I did this, and yet I don’t feel as if I’ve accomplished anything. I’ve checked a box, I suppose, proven to myself that I won’t succumb to fear, at least not today. I just thought it would feel more significant. After a few minutes—five? fifteen?—I swim-run back to the shore, timing my departure Frogger-like so I won’t be knocked down when a wave comes in. I didn’t love it.

 

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