Tuesday night on the Wattpadres chat on Twitter, we all had a great time talking about horror and the things that terrify us. (A number of people also met an untimely end at the tiny jaws of vicious dust mites…who would have thought the dust mites would end more people in the haunted house than the zombies, vampires, and werewolves combined!)
One of the questions was what terrifies us most. Personally, I find the subject of fear intriguing especially since fear can limit and shape us in ways we don’t anticipate. For quite awhile now, I’ve practiced the Month of Fear, which has become the Year of Fear. I try to do at least one thing that makes me uncomfortable or afraid or at least pushes me out of my comfort zone every day. On the whole living in fear is something that I don’t believe to be biblical, healthy, or wise. So, since I am trying to live consciously and fully, I attack my fears and discomfort when I can.
Initially in my challenges, I chose fears that I could confront and that negatively impacted me in some way. My fear of cameras and having my picture taken was connected unfortunate incidents, bullying, and more. In confronting that fear, I attempted to tackle something that held me back and to not be hypocritical when I tell my amazing students and mentees to be bold and courageous.
Then I started to wonder about other fears. The deeper fears. The ones that really shaped me. True, my uneasiness around spiders and men with blue eyes have shaped part of who I am and came from specific incidents. My camera and mirror avoidance has resulted in certain consequences. But there are other fears…the kind that truly send chills through me and that actually change my behavior in more meaningful ways.
So what do I fear…deep down…it isn’t death. I know where I’m going and that it is but a transition. But a living death of the mind, whether my own or of others, that is horrifying. Particularly when it is multiplied.
I am terrified of being delusional, of losing my capacity to think or respond, and of being trapped in mass hysteria (doesn’t matter whether I’m part of it or am someone aware of it, it’s all terrifying). I value my mind and my independence. I love being able to think and break things apart to see how they work and understand them better. I hate being wrong, but I will take being wrong if I can still think, reason, and understand.
So…should I be tackling those fears? Targeting these core fears seems far more difficult. In fact, I don’t even know how one would begin to put oneself in those situations or whether those are fears that one necessarily wants to lose.
Fear can serve a purpose and be valuable. My fear of losing my own mind and mental capacity as well as being caught up in mass hysteria propels me to take care of my mind, conduct my own research, and remain aware. In this case, the fear is not so much crippling as it is cautionary. True, sometimes it takes unhealthy forms. When I go into a room, I’m almost always considering an escape route of some time. And if I’m stuck in a hall with lots of people or waiting in a long line (like at an amusement park), I do sometimes wonder about what would happen if some catastrophe struck such as the zombie apocalypse or a rabid wolf or a fire. It’s the same thing that happens when I’m sitting in a tunnel in my car, waiting for traffic to move along and wondering what the solution would be if water started spraying through the bricks. (Social etiquette point here: don’t share these thoughts with anyone around you unless you’re certain they’ll find it just as intriguing as you.)
Perhaps this is why I enjoy psychological horror stories as opposed to straight up monster movies as well as my general preference for complex strategizing villains. Maybe in a small way I am confronting that fear.
Regardless, I don’t plan on confronting my fear of losing my mind or being trapped in a violent mob or hysterical crowd. I think I can live with those fears. But I may see about researching possible survival methods and strategies, and I’ll continue to do what I can to keep my own mind healthy and aware.