The Things I Fear
Are there things you’re afraid of? Me, ABSOLUTELY! Some people say fear can be a good thing – that it signals danger. Warnings about them are good things, unless they make you freeze. I have three big fears, and sometimes I see them and freeze. I don’t take action when I should. Tonight – one of my biggest fears from the 1990’s and early 2000’s – getting lost.
Part 1 – Get Lost! In the 1990’s and 2000’s this was my biggest fear – getting lost. It terrified me. I felt like I was lost in a maze, without a clue to my location. People told me where I was, but it meant nothing. It just increased my frustration . . . because I was still lost.
Sometimes maps help! Sometimes they don’t! Maps are great if you can find your location, then figure out where to go. But when you can’t . . . URGH!
Then I feel like the second maze . . . frozen! I can’t move. Not one footstep.
Sometime in the 2000’s that fear disappeared . . . Why? GPS . . . Also known as GLOBAL POSITIONING SYSTEM. Oh My Gosh! It was a game changer!
My fear vanished! Even if I messed up, GPS would always take me to the right address until . . . 3 years ago. The unexpected happened. I had a rental car with no GPS. I had my phone – so I thought I was OK. NOT!
My phone went dead somewhere on the back roads of Tennessee. I was following I40 East to Knoxville when my GPS took me onto those back roads. Then it died. I recognized a few towns, but I couldn’t figure out for the life of me how to get to I75. I was in the middle of farm country. I even saw a moose laying down in a field. He was HUGE – even sitting down.
I was literally 30-45 minutes away from the lake house, but I didn’t get there till 2 hours later. I tried all kinds of ways to get myself redirected. My solution . . . I stopped at a gas station for directions. It took 3 tries before I found someone who could tell me how to get to I75.
The good news . . . I finally got home, but the best news . . . I no longer fear getting lost. As long as I have my phone and my mouth, I can find my way home, even if I get lost in a German school . . . That really happened. I WAS SO scared! I didn’t even know how to say lost or help in German, but it all worked out. Some kind soul took me to the teacher in charge of the sister cities program. I was found! Facing your fears and surviving them is freeing!
Part 2 – Fear of Failure: I didn’t worry about school failure until middle school. It was easy for me. I was an A/B student. My first C came in 7th grade on an English worksheet. I teared up. The kids around me wondered why I was upset . . . a C was OK. By the time I got a C in high school physics (so hard), I was grateful!
Sports, now that was a different ball game, and I was terrible at it! Girls started softball in 4th grade in the 60’s. I was horrible at bat, horrible in the field. I was afraid of failing everytime I tried to bat, every time I tried to catch a ball . . . there was a good reason the coach put me in left field. I only did baseball for 1 year. That was enough! Even now I just want to duck when something flies my way. Sports are not for me!
This could be me when I was in college. I had a couple classes where the professor commented on my first test, my first paper. They said I’d done a great job, and that they looked forward to the next one. OMG! The FEAR of FAILURE! I never did as well on the next paper. Fear fueled the result. But once I got through it, would you believe I did better on the third, because I wasn’t worried? I could just be me and do the work.
Sometimes I look like this when I’m writing. I stare into space, at my computer, at the pictures on Pixabay. I’m trying to find the words I need to write about them, but I’m frozen. I can’t move forward, and I feel like a failure. Sometimes I can force the words to come. But sometimes I have to do the braver thing – stop. Then try again later. It’s not a failure – it’s me giving my brain a rest.
That’s what I did when I tried to write part 2 of this post. I kept trying to write. Then I kept changing the pictures around. Finally, I stopped! And tonight, it was easy-peasy!
What’s hard for me to write? Either a brand-new story, or something about my writing business. I’ve been writing since 2007. I have enough practice to know when to force my words, and when I need to stop for a brain break. That’s how I push away those ‘F’ words – Fear and Frustration.
Part 3 – Fear of the Unknown: This one has been with me as long as I can remember. New things . . . New places . . . New people . . . They’re all scary. Like crossing the road on a foggy day and hoping that you won’t get hit by a car.
Have you ever scheduled a great vacation, but when it gets close, you just want to stay home? It’s easier, and you don’t have to worry about things going wrong, but, no risk – no gain. My dad was like that pre-trip, but he always went, and everything turned out fine. I still get those feelings, but I force myself past them, like dad did. Usually things work out, but when they don’t, I learn something new, and that’s always a good thing!
Do you ever feel anxious when you meet new people, like the first day of school? I did . . . I always hoped I’d see a friendly face across the room. It made everything easier! In junior high, kids and classes changed every hour. That didn’t stop until I finished college.
Did you know teachers feel as anxious as their students? The kids who come in the door affect the year we’ll have. Most kids are great. That’s why I taught for 33 years, and it’s why I still sub.
Did a blank page ever scare you as a kid? Sometimes teachers put questions around them. Filling them in with good ideas can be hard. I never worried about those blanks until college. That’s when an essay question almost sank my boat.
I knew the answer, but I couldn’t remember it. I went blank, totally! I didn’t know what to do, but the clock was ticking. I started writing. I rephrased the question, then kept going. I wrote around the answer, trying to put down everything I could think of, coherently. It worked! I answered the question, and I didn’t bomb the test!
When I first started writing, I didn’t think about blank pages. Maybe because the first story I wrote happened to me. I held a bat on a mop in Germany, but I didn’t think it was enough of a story, that I was enough of a writer . . . so I added in Herman the German. He defeated three Roman legions in the year 9AD. Today it would be like the Ukranians taking out three Russian divisions. Good luck, Ukraine!
I didn’t have a blank page then, but I had the beginning and an idea for the end. I just needed to figure out the middle. No Problem! I found it by thinking cause/effect. When I finished, I had something good, but I also had tons of mistakes, the kind brand-new writers make.
Now that I’m a published author, I still start with the beginning and the end. They’ll change, but it’s a start. No blank page! I still use cause/effect, but I’ve learned to think in acts – three.
The main character will try to solve the problem all the way through, but things get worse each time. By Act 3 and that 3rd try, the main character is ready to quit. That’s when something changes, and the story comes to a close. It sounds easy, but it’s messy. It takes work, and multiple tries, multiple critiques. But when you get it right - success is sweet!
Part 4 – Four Fears I Live Without: First up . . . aging! I have never had a problem with decade birthdays like 30, 40, 50, even 60.
I’m lucky . . . I’m named after my grandmother, Rinda. I knew she died young so I always felt grateful to live through each decade birthday. I never met my grandmother, but she made aging easy.
I’m retired now, but I retired to a new career . . . writing. I’m enjoying every minute of my 60’s. Here’s to what the 70’s will bring!
Second, I’m a diabetic, type 2. YUCK! Diabetes is an awful disease that could take away my sight. It could hurt my heart. I never wanted to have it, but it’s been a part of me since the day I was born. I found out in my 50’s.
I’m lucky! I live in an age where diabetes can be controlled. Diet and exercise used to work, but it’s a hard disease to beat. You think it’s under control, and then it breaks free.
Now I test myself each day. My numbers guide me on what to eat and what to skip. I also control them with medicine. I take two pills and a shot each day. They allow me to live and enjoy my life!
Third, I’m a daughter of Alzheimer’s. It took my dad away from me. First his brain, then the rest of him.
I always look for silver linings. When dad had to go into a nursing home, I was his Peter Pan. When he saw things that weren’t there, I played along and believed him. Everyone needs to be believed.
I found another silver lining as the disease took over his body. It was hard to see him stop walking and talking, but dad didn’t know it was happening. I think it made it easier for him to leave this world behind. If dementia claims me, I’m glad there will be a few silver linings.
And finally, death. Over the last 7 years my husband and I have said goodbye to our parents. It was hard, but as a Christian, I believe they’re in a better place, with the people they loved. Someday, I believe that will happen to me too.
Have you noticed that fears shrink when you face them, like the bullies they are? My best advice – face your fear. Then make a plan to beat it. Test-drive that plan. If it doesn’t work, then come up with a new one. Here’s to us, facing our fears!
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When I write, I can only have one voice in my head, mine. A little noise is fine. But too much, or worse yet, WORDS, and I must change rooms or pull out headphones. Then I can write on!