I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear. -Nelson Mandela.
I can’t remember exactly when I developed a fear of dogs. To me they have always been menacing creatures, their crooked ferocious looking teeth and fierce barks have always made me uneasy.
I remember making visits to friend’s and family’s houses as a child, and we would be told the dogs needed to be locked up before we passed through the gates, I remember the beware of dog signs. Growing we never kept dogs as pets, we had one, he was a guard dog, only his caregivers and my parents went near him, I think he was only let out at night to keep the premises safe. I’ve never seen them as pets because of this, no matter how cute or harmless they appear, at the back of my mind, I feel like in an instant they can turn on you and bite you.
Fear is something I have been reflecting on lately, not in a philosophical way but in a primal way, I also have a fear of driving, I am embarrassed to admit this as an adult. If I feel you drive too fast, I will not seat with you at the front seat of your car, and I will constantly tell you to slow down. This is a fear I have to conquer, for practical reasons, I am the only one of my four siblings who cannot drive, I always think the worse will happen, maybe I will end up in an accident, because I was too distracted, talking to the person beside me, while trying to concentrate on the oncoming traffic ahead of me. I also think about other drivers too, how competent are they, What if they have been drinking ? What if they are really bad at driving, I hate the idea of worrying about them and myself as well. I remember once I was in a taxi in Abuja, and my driver was texting on the highway, no hands on the steering wheel, I nearly shit myself by the end of the ride, these are the kinds of things that worry me.
I used to fear being different and I still do, I can be reclusive, although personable in one on one situations, I’m a loner, I don’t really enjoy small talk, but I can tolerate it, if you are my friend, this gives me anxiety because I’m afraid people will interpret this as being haughty or people will mistake this as me being reticent, which is actually not the case, I just don’t like talking unless I have something to say. Sometimes I fear that my interests are too weird for a 30 year old woman, I like make up, fashion to some degree but I love intellectual pursuits more, my dad once told me that he was worried something was wrong with me because I loved horror films so much.
We all have fears, some primal and some based on our perception of ourselves and the world.
Fear is powerful because it can cripple you emotionally, physically and psychologically. Fear is not necessarily a bad thing, it can serve a purpose, to protect us from real dangers, and it can also hinder us from moving forward in life.I don’t fear being different anymore, I know that God loves me, but I still fear dogs and driving and I NEED to conquer those. I don’t think it is healthy to hastily rationalize your fears away, for me, acknowledging them helps me to be honest with myself and reminds me that I am still human, but I think it is far more important to address them, even if it means taking baby steps.
I think fear usually has some deeper underlying cause, and everybody might not be ready to go there yet, I guess that is okay honestly, but don’t let fear rob you of the possibility of living a great life, I’ve always wanted to write, but I fear criticism, but I feel most alive when I express words on paper, I am determined to push through my fears, even if people don’t like it, even if I never sell books ( this is me showing bravado, please I want to sell books ha ha).
So I will try and make efforts to live my life as fearlessly as I possibly can and I hope you do too.