What is fear? Is it the pit in your stomach when you realize you didn’t study enough for the test you have in an hour? No, that’s probably guilt. Is it running offstage, even though you’ve practiced for hours? Probably not. That may be embarrassment. Is it the sinking feeling you get when you are floating in the middle of the ocean? No, you’re probably just sinking. Literally. No. Fear is the cold-sweat, heart-racing, blood-pumping feeling you get when you see your friend nearly get hit by a massive truck, or the thought of leaving home, and the impact of accidentally deleting a save file all in one.
Fear is the most primal of instincts, only second to our drive to survive, and it only comes out in times of true danger. So why do so many people say that they are afraid of things? Why do people constantly say ‘I’m scared’? Well, there is more than one type of fear. The one that is described above, and a more common one – irrational fears.
Irrational fears are everyday fears, fears that we know don’t make sense, thus the ‘irrational’ prefix. Spiders, going on stage, meeting new people, the dark, zombies, water, dogs – the list goes on and on. Everyone has them, and people are often mocked because of them. So what can we do about them?
There is no perfect solution to an irrational fear. A fear I know all too well, arachnophobia, or the fear of spiders, is something that I can only grit my teeth about, and sometimes just run away from. A fear of the dark can be tempered by slowly dimming lights, or a nightlight, and a fear of water can be slowly rationalized, or water can simply be avoided. Fear of going on stage can be fixed through thoughts of everyone in their underwear, though that can lead to different problems on stage, and the fear of zombies can be helped through watching flick after flick of poor horror films. None of these solutions are perfect of course, and by no means are all phobias here. But real fear, bone-chilling, blood-curdling fear, is not often present in our everyday lives.
So what you should make of that is this: when you are afraid of something, know that it is most likely a imbalance in your hormones telling you to run, or the fact that you didn’t study is making you feel guilty. Don’t use this idealized version of fear as an excuse to not do something – use it as a reason to try something new, to impress yourself. Use fear as motivation, not a hindrance.