Fears (and solutions to them)

In the PS3 game “The Last of Us”, there’s a scene when one of the main characters (Sam) says, “How is it that you’re never scared?”. The world they live in is full of parasitic monsters and murderers. Ellie replies, “Who says I’m not?” It’s one of the first scenes that you see Ellie as a well rounded person.

Sam asks, “What are you scared of?”. Both characters are barely teenagers and each have spent their lives running from the infected. They are just kids. Ellie responds with a list of her fears, ranging from being scared of death to being alone. What she says is human and breaks down the perception that she is invincible. Until this point, she’s seen as a rough character who makes sarcastic comments and cusses too much for her age.

It shocks me that we don’t talk about our fears. Even more, that we pretend that we aren’t scared of anything. We believe that others don’t have fears. What makes us human is our ability to cope with our worries and continue on with our lives, even in the face of tragedy.

Today I wanted to share some of my fears. Not because I want sympathy or to sound emotional but because I want to sound human. I don’t think you see me as invincible but perhaps if you understand that we all have fears, you’ll realize that we’re all struggling with something. We’re all human beings going through our lives.

I think my strongest fear is of arriving at the end of my life full of regrets. An un-lived life terrifies me because I want to make use of the short time I’m on Earth. My life will have been wasted if I don’t make the most of it. It amazes me that people can spend so much time watching TV or playing video games. I can’t stand doing nothing. If I’m not growing, I’m dying, and it terrifies me that this could all mean nothing.

While it’s easy to be feel like life is a clock ticking downwards, it would wrong to think that the time we have is meaningless. When we arrive at the end of our life, we have had a life lived. After all, we made it to the end, right? This fear that our days are going to waste is irrational. Everything builds you into who you are now. Okay, you didn’t go skydiving or ________ but your experience of life was unique. No one else will have lived the same life.

You have to remember that life is a process, you can’t rush or fill it with too many things. If you believe that you’d only feel alive if you _______, maybe you need to remember that you’re always alive. There isn’t time for everything and that’s alright. There’s no reason to be scared that you’ll run out of time. Just enjoy now and work towards your dreams.

Last year I made a decision that cost an unmeasurable amount of life. I chose a career field that would take me away from home and the friends I love. Before I left, I was creating a lot of art. The community that I became part of was growing exponentially and when I left, it continued to grow without me. Many of the contacts I had have gone in different directions.

So the second one is the fear that I’m on the wrong path. All these artists have become freelance and are traveling the world. They’re growing in such a beautiful way. By choosing my career field, I abandoned it. They continued to grow without me and I can no longer related to most of them. I haven’t even taken a photograph in a few months.

This is irrational because there isn’t a correct path. There isn’t even a path. Everyone is trudging through the woods going in their own direction. So what I didn’t follow my artist friends. There’s no reason to get anxiety about something I cannot change now. All we can do is keep trudging forwards.

If that means I return to photography, then so be it. If not, then I’m sure I’ll find other passions. This fear could be labeled as “The fear of the loss of possibilities”. There are so many directions in life and only so much time to move. There’s no reason to get flustered with loss possibilities, there will always be more in the future. Maybe different ones but you’ll never know what lies ahead if you keep looking backwards.

Many people face this; the fear of being alone. When I moved away from home, I left a community that I had built my entire life. The support structure I had crumbled and I find it difficult to relate to old friends now. When I’m on the phone with friends, there’s often awkward silences because we don’t have anything to talk about. There’s only so much we can say.

When I got here, I thought that I’d make a lot of new friends. I love meeting people and I’m a pretty energetic guy. I spent my life learning from books and I can relate to almost anyone or blend into any crowd. However, I still haven’t gained any friends here. To be honest, I’m lonely. I miss the art community and my old high school friends. This is the fear that I’ll spend the rest of my life feeling alone.

Again, this fear is irrational because life is a process. Some days you will have many friends, others you will have less. Inevitably you’ll moved between the two and you’ll find yourself in a growing crowd or a shrinking crowd. There’s no reason to be upset over more alone time. Take it as time to get to know yourself.

This past year I’ve had the opportunity to learn about myself and to grow in ways I couldn’t have imagined before. If I was busy in a group of people, I’m certain I wouldn’t have learned the same lessons. While it’s great to have many friends, sometimes you’re stuck with only a few. It happens. Each day you’ll meet new people and you’ll always have the possibility of growing your crowd. Just because you’re alone now doesn’t mean you’ll always be alone.

As I was writing this, I remembered Twyla Tharp’s book “The Creative Habit”. She has a questionnaire that asks you to list your creative fears. In this post I unintentionally followed a similar format to her book. In it, she lists her fears and her reactions to them. Therefore I want to say that she inspired me to write this and to conquer my fears. Her book is tremendous and a great read.

As you can see, we all have fears. Maybe we even share some of the same fears. How we respond to them is what counts. By writing them down, you have time to intellectualize them. Most fears are irrational and you can realize how simple they are just by writing them down. I urge you to take that time and to look at your fears. We’re all human, we all have some anxieties. How you overcome them is what makes you who you are.



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