I’m afraid of a lot.
I’m afraid of heights. I’m afraid of falling.
I’m afraid of pain. I’m afraid of emotional pain.
I’m afraid that my peak was in high school.
I’m afraid that I won’t make any friends in college.
I’m afraid of showing too much emotion.
I’m afraid of pushing everyone I love away.
I’m afraid of failing.
My biggest wish is that I didn’t fear anything. That I could conquer any and all apprehensions I had about anything before those feelings brought about even the smallest bout of panic or dread.
With all of this fear – everything I have said and everything I have left unsaid – I do not know if I’m prepared to live the life that I want to lead. I like to think that because I was so put together in high school and did so well that I will succeed in life, because after all, life is just high school with more brain-to-mouth filter and more at stake. But then, I am confronted by all of the things I cannot do; I am confronted by everything that challenges me. I am confronted by everything I fear.
Is there any way to control fear? Especially in the moment of paralyzation? Is there a way to move past fear?
I think that many philosophers would tell you that the answer to all of these questions is yes. I certainly wouldn’t agree with them in the moment of my panic, but right now…
I am reminded of the religious/philosophical teaching Taoism. As far as I could tell from my 7th grade analyzation of The Tao of Pooh, Taoism is all about going with the flow.
I loved that book, The Tao of Pooh, not only was it a good respite from boring 7th grade English, I also learned something from it that I still carry with me today.
In one chapter, the author Benjamin Hoff, uses one of A.A.Milnes’ stories of Tigger to explain a central Taoist concept: knowing one’s own limits. In the short passage, Tigger explains to his friends that “Tiggers can do everything,” but when he tries to jump up to a very high tree branch he tries and fails. Since my dog at the time was named Tigger, this particular lesson stuck with me much more than anything else I read in the book, but still it was very important. In reading this passage, I came to understand that knowing my limits would help me succeed (and not fall from tree branches).
Now, I understand that some of these fears are my limits: pushing my loved ones away and not making friends. I understand that these extreme behaviors are my way to realize that I have been pushed to my limit. At the same time, I must understand that Tigger would not have learned his limits if he hadn’t first believe that he could do everything. Therefore, I refuse to believe that I peaked in high school. I refuse to be afraid of continuing to work towards success and happiness.
I refuse to not try because I am afraid of heights. I will be like Piglet and choose to be braver and more courageous than I seem.
In fact, I’m going to take a piece of advice straight from A.A.Milne himself: “Promise me you’ll always remember: You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”