Fear of Flying

 

I am not a very bold or outspoken person. I am afraid of expressing myself, and I am afraid of doing so because of the power that my words potentially have. Words can stir people up to righteous indignation, they can crush people spiritually and psychologically, and they can also give false hope. So when I have something on my mind, I am often afraid of expressing it.

Expressing my true feelings through the written word is difficult as well, for the same reasons that it is difficult to do so in the spoken word. When I do decide to speak my mind, to assert my own humanity and existence, I prefer to be direct because it is imperative to mean every word that I say, exactly how it is said. All of these “abstract” and “philosophical” types who use all those fancy metaphors, to make a point that they can just as easily say directly, come off as pretentious to me. I’ve never liked or appreciated anything they’ve had to say. Being direct is important because since, most of the time, I am afraid of expressing my true feelings, but when it is necessary for me to do so, I’d rather not make you wonder what I mean with “abstract”, faux-philosopher horseshit.

These things are important to note because of how much fear and anxiety shapes my existence, experience, and who I am as a writer. I am afraid of leaving safety, afraid of too much safety, afraid of success, afraid of failure, afraid of death, afraid of life, afraid of the past, afraid of the present, and I am certainly afraid of the future. I am similar to Gideon, of the Bible: I see myself as a weakling, a simpleton, but I have no idea what kind of strength and potential is actually locked inside of me. As humans, we fear what we do not understand and I am very much afraid of myself. This is because I have no idea what I am capable of, I don’t understand who I am.

Fear is a natural emotion. It is as natural as happiness and anger. Even those we consider to be brave men were all afraid. For one to say that he or she is not afraid of anything implies a psychological deficiency. However, as natural as fear is, it is a very debilitating emotion. When we feel that we are unable to express ourselves out of fear, we become miserable, and even sick. This sickness is something that I have been feeling for some time. I wake up in puddles of sweat some mornings, I have panic attacks, mood swings, and I lash out at people for no reason, even family members. The anxious and intrusive thoughts within my mind can turn a very good day into a terrible one. This is where it has become a problem in my own personal life, and this is something that I must come to terms with.

I have missed opportunities: spiritual, romantic, financial, and academic, many of which would have improved my life, all because I was afraid. I am afraid of discussing my beliefs, both religious and political, around people, especially friends, because I am afraid of offending them. I am afraid of making them uncomfortable. I am afraid of talking to women that I have feelings for. Sometimes it’s because the women themselves intimidate me, or because I’m afraid of expressing my true feelings, other times it’s because I am afraid of commitment. Keeping my fears and thoughts bottled inside is more convenient than expressing them, this is not healthy, and it has not been healthy for me.

Our fears and anxieties define us. We’re all slaves to our fears, as much as we are slaves to our vices and addictions. No matter how much pain and misery these things bring us, we don’t know who or what we would be without them. A junkie, for example, knows how horrible heroin is for him, but what would he be without it? Heroin defines him. Heroin is the first thing he thinks about when he wakes up, and the first thing he wants before he goes to bed. Even if he were to kick the habit, a vacuum would be left in his soul that is very difficult to fill. This often permanent void is what leads many addicts to relapse. As much as a slave hates his master, he does not know what life would be like without him. So, running away or revolting is out of the question for the slave. Our fears operate in a similar fashion.

I don’t know how to let go of my fears because I don’t know what it is like to not be afraid. I don’t know what it’s like to “leave the plantation” and seize the things that I want. I envy the go-getter, the entrepreneur, the rebel, the revolutionary; these people have visions and go after them. I do not want to be afraid anymore, but I don’t know how not to be. It is not made any better by a society that profits off of fear.

This society teaches us the importance of safety. Safety, we are often taught, is more important than love and freedom. Within America, there exists doublethink: we are taught to be individuals and to take risks to get the things we want, but at the same time, we are taught to fall in line and conform to social norms. Therefore, I am afraid of expressing my true opinions because I am afraid of being judged and repressed. Likewise, I am afraid of going against the grain, so to speak, and becoming a writer because it is not a “realistic” career. Repression occurs in many different ways. Not only could you face repression from society in general, but you can face repression from your friends and family as well.

My own fear is my biggest weakness. It keeps me from happiness. It robs me of whatever joy I do receive. However, at the same time, I have no idea what, or who, I would be without it. I am enslaved to it, but I no longer want to be. The anxiety is slowly killing me, I am its prisoner, and I want, more than anything, to be free.

 

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