I waste a lot of time worrying. I tend to expect the worst—even though “the worst” has only happened twice in my life, and once it wasn’t nearly as bad as it could have been. Sometimes my fear makes me a passenger rather than a participant; I let life carry me along, rather than acting upon it.
Sometimes my fear feels like my conjoined twin. It is so present—I am so deeply and inextricably aware of it—that fear feels like a part of my biology. It is a nefarious parasite burrowing in, draining me of my vitality, depleting the depth of my dreams, and punching holes into my hopes.
Sometimes my fear is a dense fog. I can’t see where I’m going, so I stop moving entirely. I don’t want to fail or fall, so I don’t proceed. Fear obscures everything before me. It blots out the sun and makes my world very dark indeed.
At my core, I’m a pessimistic and fearful person. It is easy for my imagination to spin its wheels exploring hypothetical travesties and worst-case scenarios. My thoughts often become a litany of worries—ranging from trivial to severe: What if I’m late for my flight/game/date/appointment? Will I find fulfilling work that pays? Will I loose control of my body (or have I already)? Will we have enough financially to live a comfortable life? How will I react when I start to go gray—no, really? What if my father looses the house? What if my grandmother is suffering more than she lets on? What if I fail at this? What if I succeed? What if I get hurt? What if I’m attacked or robbed? What if I never again see this or that loved one? What if I don’t like the food I just ordered? What if I’m not worrying about things I should be worrying about? What if I’m worrying too much?
Sometimes my fear is like a garment I can’t take off. It fuses to my skin. It is too heavy at all seasons, but I can’t remove it from my body. It envelops me completely. I know it should just be a matter of working a zipper or a few buttons, peeling it away, or stepping out of it, but I leave it on.
I easily muster hope for other people: I’m confident he’ll recover. I’m sure she’ll find a job. I don’t doubt for a minute that their marriage will work out. But when it comes to myself, I too often turn to the negative. I treat fear like it can protect me. It’s never proven itself to be a reliable guardian, yet too often I find myself holding fear’s hand before crossing the street.
Fear is a poison I take too often—swallowing it whole like a daily vitamin. It pretends to be the antidote, but it is the venom. It ravages my system. It courses through my blood all prickly. It launches a hostile takeover of my body—implanting itself in every vulnerable place.
I want hope to come more easily. It makes for a much better dwelling. I want to dismiss worry like an unfounded rumor. I want to keep my fears as small as possible. I would like to be so full of optimism that fear can find no foothold. So much of fear is hypothetical. It dissipates upon closer examination. Fear is so often an illusion—an imaginary foe. I want to release myself from fear’s hold on me. And if I’m holding onto fear, I want to let it go.