by M.V. Freeman
I’m afraid of the dark. If the lights go out, especially at night, my heart rate accelerates, my breathing quickens, my thoughts race. For a moment it’s all I can do not to fall to pieces. This is when I take a deep breath and force myself to focus on what to do first (usually its to find the flashlight that I forgot where I put). No matter what I do, this is how I react when the lights go out.
Everyone has a fear. It can be situational, an object, or any number of things. Many fear heights, some fear flying. My husband discovered a fear of small tight spaces years ago when he was caving and got stuck. He hyperventilated. Eventually, he realized his fear and relaxed enough to wriggle out. He hasn’t put himself in that situation again. Fear is like that, it will show up when you least expect it.
Fear, can actually be useful. This is hard to imagine, especially if you’re crippled by this fear. I’m not talking a phobia (like agoraphobia-characterized by the avoidence of public places). Phobias are different situations and require different treatment. I’m talking daily fears and things I know I avoid. For example, I don’t like to drive in rush-hour traffic. I will stay some place later or leave earlier if I have to, just to avoid rush-hour. Sometimes, I have no choice I have to drive right in the middle of it. I have to face that fear.
I find that fear has inspired me to do things I normally wouldn’t do. I became an exchange to South Africa for a year after I graduated High School. I lived half-way around the world in a country I’ve never been in. I thought I was going to die…with fear. Obviously, I didn’t. It opened my eyes to things I never thought possible. Shaped the way I now think and view things. If I hadn’t faced that fear I know I wouldn’t be here writing.
Fear also pushed me to join the Army Reserves. Could I do it? Did I have it in me? Yes. I found out I did. Let me clarify, I wasn’t nor will I ever be the best soldier. But my joining the military taught me more about myself than even being an exchange student. I saw my weaknesses (which are never pleasant). I learned aboute esprit de corps and what makes a good soldier. Best of all, it refined in me the necessity of using my fear to face the obstacles before me. I’ve tackled many more things in my life because of what I learned facing fear.
As a writer I face so many fears: Fear of not being able to make it, finish it, write it, publish it….I could go on and on. Those fears are endless. I could let the fear run over me, to drown me in that crippling emotion, or I could let fear inspire me.
I am not going to let fear defeat me, but I am going to use it as my tool. It inspires to me to continue, to fight to finish my stories, to query when I know I will face many rejections. It’s a battle everyone has to face.
Does fear inspire you? How?