Saturday, July 10, 2010


fear   /fɪər/

1. a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid.

2. a specific instance of or propensity for such a feeling: an abnormal fear of heights.
3. concern or anxiety; solicitude: a fear for someone's safety.
4. reverential awe, esp. toward god.
5. that which causes a feeling of being afraid; that of which a person is afraid: Cancer is a common fear.

As a child, rarely did you stop to think before you did something like climb a tree. You never stopped to pause and consider the consequences before you lept from the coffee table onto the couch. You did not consider that speeding down the hill on your bicycle may end in a crash. Fear. It's not something we have when we're younger. It's an emotion born of experience. Fear of relationships stems from being hurt. Fear of being broke typically stems from at some point in your life having very little. Fear or weight gain typically comes from an overstimulation from the media or a personal experience with it in your own life. Regardless it comes as a result of some sort of exposure to it. The bottom line here is that it's not something we are really born with. It's something that grows and develops over time. Fear, in my honest opinion, is by far the worst serial killer ever known to exist. What exactly do I mean by that? Well by now you should know me well enough to know that I don't make statements and never explain them. So here goes....

Fear is something that as an adult we tend to allow to paralyze us. Have you ever tried to SERIOUSLY put aside your fears and do something your afraid of? It's INCREDIBLY hard to do as an adult. Ever tried to overome a fear of heights, spiders, or being alone? It's incredibly difficult. As adults, our fears are so ingrained that removing them seems virtually impossible. Fear of the unknown, or fear of being broke, or fear of being alone has killed more dreams and more aspirations than any mass murder I can think of. Fear. As adults we are really good at coming up with a million and one reasons why we CAN'T do things. Fear. We allow fear to kill our desires, our very spirits, and essentially ourselves.

For a very long time, fear held me at a place in my life where I was not happy. I was so scared of being without a job that I was willing to stay in one that did not make me happy and was essentially making me ill because I was too scared to leave. I was afraid of the unknown. I was terrified that I wouldn't be able to find a new job, and terrified about not having enough money or having health insurance. I was so scared that it literally petrified me. But I came to a point in my life where I was able to put the fear aside. I made a choice for myself. I got to a point where I knew that if I did not leave teaching the consequences could be potentially dire, and I was not willing to do that to myself anymore. So I left. For the time it took for me to write my resignation letter and hand it in, I was able to put my fear aside. For that block of time, I was able to be fearless.

However, now that that time has come and gone, I find myself faced with new fears. Fears of being unemployed without a source of full-time income, fear that I will have to leave DC, fear that I will not be able to live this life any longer, and more than anything fear because I don't honestly know what I WANT to do for the rest of my life. These fears have become a very real thing. Everyday I now sit and pound out job applications hoping that I figure things out, hoping that a job comes my way, and hoping against hope that I don't have to give up the life I've made for myself here in DC.

When I first quit my job, two of my older and much wiser friends lauded me quitting. They told me that it took a lot of courage and bravery to leave in the manner which I did. To be unemployed in an economy so fragile that it resembles a Ukranian pysanky egg takes guts. At the time, I didn't quite get it. I didn't feel like I was being brave or courageous. I just felt like I was doing what I had to do. But now, sitting here weeks later, I understand. I'm doing what a lot of people have a very hard time doing and that is facing my fears head on. I don't have much of a choice. I have to deal with them or I will not ever leave my house.

It's not easy, it never is, but life is forcing my hand a bit right now, and while these fears sometimes seem to be swallowing me, I also have to say, so what? No, really. So what? If I have to leave DC, will I be sad? Absolutely, but you know what, the only thing permanent in life, is death. There is nothing saying that I can't come back when the time is right. Will it hurt? Oh hell yes. I would hate to walk away from CFOT and the family I've made there, but you know, I can return. If the money runs out, and I have to make some sort of a piecemeal situation work, so what? I'm young... well, youngish, and I can get on the footing I want to be on eventually right? But what about health insurance? Well there is Cobra right?

The bottom line is this. Fear can be an all encompassing thing if you let it. Fear of being unsuccessful with weight loss keeps a lot of people from ever trying. Fear of failure keeps a lot of people from every giving ANYTHING a go. Fear of dropping a barbell on their head keeps some people from gaining strength. Fear. It's a tiny four letter word, but it's a big thing. It does take guts, and it does take sticktoittiveness to overcome, but the bottom line is that sometimes you just have to. If you want to be able to get from point a to point b, sometimes you have to face it head on.

You have to get to that place where you say, "Ok, self. We're going to deal with this, and it's not going to be pretty, but we're going to do it a step at a time." It is ok to talk to yourself and give ye olde pep talk. Do it, and then take the first step. I didn't say jump in, I said, take a step. I'm learning in my old age that jumping headlong into things is not a successful way to attempt anything. My most successful weight loss was not done by jumping in, it was a gradual wading into the weight loss pool. My large successes at CF came after slowly ramping up the number of days I worked out, and getting some solid work in over a period of months. My largest successes as a teacher came when I broke things into chunks and worked things in over a period of time. Slow and steady is just fine. There's nothing saying that things should be done overnight, so why force that on yourself? But the point is, just try. Try to tackle something that you find so terrifying that it freezes you.

Is this post saying that I've become cured and I never wake up at night with fear wondering what the hell I'm going to do with the rest of my life? No. God no. I had my very first complete and utter breakdown the other day including the hysterical "What am I going to do with the rest of my life?" sobbing. But, that's ok. The point is that I'm getting there. I'm getting to the point where I'm seriously considering and weighing my options and realizing where I can go, and what I can do with the rest of my life and the FEAR isn't holding me completely in place. It may be making me feel like I'm walking through mud, but that's a far better feeling than the feeling of wearing concrete shoes I had before. It may take me another leap of faith and it may take some serious guts to put the wheel completely in motion, but I'm getting there. Baby steps you know. The bottom line is that I'm realizing I don't have to be completely afraid of this. This can be a good thing. Being unemployed is scary, but I have the time and the money to explore and to think and to really figure things out.

I realize that not everyone has job related fears right now. I realize others have fear in a lot of different areas. Some people it's work related, some people it's family, some people it's relationships, some people it's CF fear. No worries. Whatever it is that is holding you back, figure out a first step and go from there. Put a toe in the pool, and then maybe a foot, and after that maybe an ankle. It's scary and it takes guts, but tackling your fear head on may just be the best thing you ever do for yourself. Even if you realize the choices you've made are not the right ones, guess what. Now you know that. You've learned something and now there's never any second guessing. You've put the fear aside and you've learned and now you can go on with the rest of your life without reservation. Fear can be a silent killer if you let it. I think instead you should ride out and meet it.


Jessi J. Walton said...

Great post Katie!!! It is so true, I really appreciate you writing about this. Fear of falling, well not the actual fall, but the possible injury from the fall, held me back for a few years in my riding. This time, I said NO MORE, I raise the jumps and breathe, some days its easier than others, but its still possible.

Good luck with your job hunt girl!! We have a great box down here if you end up in Newport News!!!

Katie said...

Jessi, I write from the heart, so you know whatever I'm writing I'm going through or have been through. My goal with my blog has always been to help others feel like they're not the only one going through these things, and if one person can resonate with what I'm writing, then all the time/effort it takes to post is well worth it. I have NO idea where life is going to land me, but come August and September I plan to travel a little bit, so perhaps I'll drop by there! Keep truckin girl! :)