Once, I gave a journal prompt on ‘My fears’ to a class of 9-year-olds. Here are the top 3 most common fears:
- The dark
- High places
While reading their journal entries, I started reflecting on my own. At that time, I concluded that my fear was of death. I don’t want to die. Who does? My reason being I don’t believe in life after death and that when I die, I simply just cease to exist. In believing that this is the only life I’ll get to live, suddenly ‘I am me’, a line that kept me amused while I was preparing a lesson on distinguishing the subject and object of a sentence, became a very confrontational fact. Of course, you may make your case based on your beliefs. I’m merely stating mine. I don’t do well with cliffhangers. And dying, to me, is like the mother of all cliffhangers. I won’t get to know what happens to the world after that. I need to know.
That was my assumption then. Lately, as I took the time to reflect on a few things, it sunk into me that my fear was probably not of death, but of something far more vague and unquantifiable. It is probably pretty obvious but it wasn’t clear to me until a few days ago.
All these while, I was afraid of the unknown.
Dying is an actual process that can be described, seen, experienced (though I doubt many would survive to talk about it), and in some cases anticipated. A scientist named Duncan MacDougall even tried to quantify death through weighing a person’s soul – it weighs 21 grams apparently. There’s also a book on that here.
The unknown, however, can’t even be defined. It is simply not known. It does not exist at this moment in time yet until I arrive at the moment of the big reveal. It might not even be a big reveal. It might just be meh. That’s why I’m so scared of it. I don’t even know what it is. Which is quite ironic. How can I possibly be afraid of my future that I have not created? And if I am the captain of my ship, surely I’d be able to steer it the way I want to go, no? Nonetheless, the fact that I feel what I feel remains true.
For better or worse, that’s exactly how it is right now. I’m standing in the face of my biggest (or in D. Trump’s words Yugest 😂) fear: the great unknown. I am frightened by the thought of not knowing what’s ahead. It’s unsettling and quite uncomfortable. It makes me want to squeeze into the very corner of my bed, pull the blanket over my head and sit there without ever having to come back out into this reality I created for myself. But then again, that’s the ‘ostrich mentality’. Just because I don’t want to face it does not mean it doesn’t exist.
Thankfully, my pride insists that I quit whining and deal with it. Which reminds me of what I was told by my ex-colleague and wonderful mentor:
It translates as “You can’t always be afraid of everything. How are you going to accomplish greater things in that case?” The fact that he said it with a tinge of irritation was a fantastic slap in my face, enough to jolt me out of the inundating ostrich mentality.
I suppose all I need is a reminder of that moment to help me get over sweating the small stuff. I’m still very thankful for what he said, even though I haven’t told him about it yet.
Happy Monday guys! Let’s just keep pushing boundaries and live slightly out of our comfort zone. 😄