Friday, 13 December 2013

Freedom from Fear

I am not afraid of much. They are pretty logical things too, for example I'm afraid of becoming unable to speak or move in old age and being fed bad food and forced to watch TV all day. The thought of that makes my blood run cold.

Somebody once said to me that they were only scared of things that threatened their life, like having a gun pointed at them, or being in an airplane with "problems."

I've done both of those. The gun didn't really bother me (and it was a German cop with a semi-automatic) because I figured if I just did as I was told it would be fine, and it was. And in the airplane having a hard time landing, I just resigned myself to the notion that I was going to die, which was very odd.

No, the scariest thing I've ever had to experience was when Sian's first child was born and took a long time to breathe. Ask me about fear then, or guess if you like.

When we talk about fear what springs to mind is phobias, or nightmares. We have all had moments of terror, and they are easy to recall, define, and attempt to avoid of course, but it's the lower levels of fear that cause more problems. Fear of failure (or, contrarily, of success,) for example, often causes inertia, and basically mucks up people's lives on an ongoing basis.

Fear of what others think is almost paralysing for some people. Instead of being who they are, wearing what they like, doing what they want to, they are stuck in some sort of loop of being fashionable, respectable, suitable, or "appropriate."

I keep running into people who tell me, with great relief, that as they get older they do more and more as they please, and worry less and less what others think. This is wonderful, but it tells me half their lives have been in a sort of self-imposed oppression. How much better could it have been if they had discovered this freedom earlier?

Lately I've been hearing a lot about shyness, or social anxiety, or any variation, definition, or severity of that sort of thing. Not just introversion, you understand. Not just preferring one's own company, but of suffering real discomfort when forced to interact with others. For a social species (and we are) how tragic is that?

Why isn't this recognized, addressed and FIXED for these people early in life?

Fear of being different, of standing out, of not being normal, is disabling. But if you look at society, for every time it says "Hey, let your freak flag fly!" it says the opposite ten times over. It says "CONFORM" in many and various ways. That's a very confusing mixed message, and no wonder young people, especially, hear the latter message.

For reasons of both nature and nurture, I am not afraid to be me. It's a fear I simply don't have. I recognize this as a massive advantage, a freedom, almost a privilege.

However, as I am learning from others who were not born that way, or whose early life suffocated their identity, it would appear it's also a choice. Like all choices, nobody said it would be easy. Nothing worth doing is easy. But if you can face that grumbling fear you can enjoy life far more.

Ask yourself, what exactly is it that I'm afraid of? If people look at me a bit funny, will the sky fall?

Instead of being horrified by the reactions of those who diapprove of you, you can, if you so choose, relish the effect you are having on them. Because by being your authentic self you are effectively teaching authenticity. You might be helping them too.

EDIT: Found this by chance after posting. Try this for size:


  1. Love that front row picture. Can I steal it for Facebook? Credited, of course. Agreed, AND, I am glad to see you acknowledge you were fortunate that way.

  2. I like the Coco Chanel quote. There is also another famous quote that goes something like: Your opinion of me is not my business.