Thursday, June 02, 2005

Scaredy Cats

This morning an Ottawa area newspaper revealed Canadians' greatest fears. Terrorism didn't make the list; common fears were unemployment and loneliness. This makes sense to me. The threat of violence is meaningless if you're hungry and alone. In fact, it can even be argued that some terrorism is carried out in the name of these basic needs.

Since I am happy to report that hunger and unemployment are not really concerns of mine, I asked myself what my greatest fears really are. It's hard to admit to fears, that gives them credence and leaves you vulnerable. But everyone fears something; some people have tangible fears and phobias while others worry in the abstract. Coming from a strong background in psych, I embrace fears. They make us human, and humans are indeed fragile creatures. But that doesn't mean we like to dwell on our fears, or even own up to them. So, having swallowed my fear of confessing, here is what I can come up with about myself:

I'm afraid of being ordinary. I'm afraid of not being special in some way, of failing to distinguish myself through actions and accomplishments. At the end of my life, I hope to have left some small part behind.

I'm afraid of becoming complacent. I'm afraid of growing comfortable and not challenging myself as I know I should. I'm afraid of falling prey to the status quo.

I'm afraid of not living up to my potential. I know that I can do anything. I have been blessed with ability and ambition and the thought of squandering it terrifies me. I know I would disappoint lots of people if I fail to rope in the stars, but most of all, I would hate to disappoint myself.

I'm afraid of giving voice to my greatest hopes and dreams. I think big, I dream big, and much of the time I keep it quiet because I risk embarrassment if I aspire to something and fail.

I'm afraid of trying, and falling short.

I am afraid of waking up one day and being transparent: that everyone would know that my confidence is largely an act, and a very shakable one at that; that I'm not invulnerable to outside opinions; that I am sensitive and thin-skinned.

I am afraid that my difficulties with trust will result in me pushing everyone who cares away. I'm afraid of being an orphan while both my parents are still technically living.

I am afraid of losing my mind piece by piece, to Alzheimer's. I'm afraid of being trapped in a body that can't respond. I am even more afraid that it will happen to Jason, and that one day he won't even know who I am.

I'm afraid of running out of ideas. I am terrified that I may one day have nothing to write, and with that, lose my identity, my sense of self.

I am afraid that someone may catch me crying.

I'm afraid of losing control. I'm afraid that my anger will eat away at anything that is good in me, and that one day I will look in the mirror and see my father. I'm afraid I couldn't live with that.

I'm afraid to know the answers to all of my questions because I may not like them. No, not just dislike them, but abhor them. I'm afraid that life and my faith may be incongruent.

I am afraid of being judged at the end of everything, and coming up empty. I'm afraid I won't even be able to defend myself. I am afraid it will all mean nothing.

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