Tuesday, November 15, 2011

What is Fear?

There are two types of fear. The type that comes from external forces. This is the OMG she’s about to run away with last pair of red Louboutins in my size! kind of fear. The second is a far more debilitating fear. It’s the fear we create all on our own. This is the “what if” fear. What if I give my heart to someone and they run it over with a lawn mower? What if I apply for that job and I’m laughed out of the office? What if I go to the mall only to find out that the gorgeous red Louboutins I’ve been lusting for was all just a cruel dream?!

The fear we create is much worse than the fear we feel when faced with a stampeding herd of buffalo. Buffalo fear is instant. It’s fight or flight. Your body floods your system with adrenaline to give you the strength and reflexes to hopefully survive being trampled by hundreds of hoofed prairie mammals. The fear we create usually starts small. At least for me it does. What if I see a cute guy I want to talk to? What if I walk over to him, hold out my hand, and say, “Hi, I’m Katie,”? What if he looks at my hand and starts to laugh? What if everyone in the room starts laughing? What if they’re laughing at me because I showed up to the party naked?! Most people would probably rip their party dress off and crawl under their covers to recover from the imaginary insult. In some situations you’d find me eating an entire carton of Ben and Jerry’s wearing footie pajamas for a few days. In other situations, I like to say, “Screw it,” and risk the humiliation. Every single time it was never as bad as I’d made it out to be.

Look FearOur own neurotic brain can be our worst enemy. A significant portion of your brain is there just to assess danger. Sometimes it likes to make an Everest out of a grain of sand but it’s just doing its job. It’s that part of our brain that tells us not to pick up the hitch hiker, not to cut through the park after dark, and not to drink the milk after its expiration date. Our survival instinct is what brought us to the top of the food chain. While other pre-humans looked at a saber toothed tiger and thought, “I’ll poke it with a stick just to see what happens,” our ancestors were sitting back waiting for the tiger to eat the idiot Neanderthal. We knew that if we waited for the inevitable nap that follows a big meal, we could earn ourselves food for a few days and a nice fur coat. The point is, fear is there for a reason. But, that doesn’t mean we have to be ruled by it. We do have the power to overwrite our fears. Stepping past your fears will always bring an unexpected result. Or you could show up to a party totally naked. But if that happens, don’t blame fear. That’s all on you babe.    


  1. Great post Katie :) I'm a guilty of the 'what if' fear often. I'm working on it :)

  2. Great post. Fear stops so many people.

  3. Aw man, fear has held me back in the past. But I believe the older you get, the less you care about fear. Good read, Katie.

  4. This post was written about me! Fighting the crushing fatigue that has come with parenting two special needs kids, I live with that "what if" adrenaline. I wake with it in the middle of the night--sometimes for no concrete reason. My mind is so scared about the "what ifs" that could bring on MORE fatigue that it is in overdrive. In the early days, I used to be neurotic about taking care of every detail I could think just to avoid the "what ifs".

    Great entry!!

  5. Fantastic write and oh so true of oh so many people! Me? I just plunge forward and am surprised by anything that isn't exactly as I thought it would be. I get surprised a lot! :)

  6. Excellent post on fear!! I really like how you've pointed out that fear doesn't need to rule us. Cheers, Jenn