I’m a really good “chicken outer”. The first solid memory I have of allowing fear to control my actions was in about 5th grade. It happened in gym class. This was back in the day when all the kids had to wear, for lack of a better descriptor, a swimming “uniform” along with the dreaded skull cap to keep our hair out of our faces. Despite feeling horribly self conscious with my developing body and naked face, I absolutely loved this section of gym class because I was pretty good at swimming. I really enjoyed it, and still do. But diving into the pool….not so much.
I vividly recall the feeling of utter panic when our gym teacher, a short freckled woman somewhere in her 40’s (at the time she was probably only 30 something, but as a kid every adult seemed as if they were much older than they actually were), sharply ordered me to dive off the diving board into the pool. Standing there, freezing cold and dripping wet at the end of the diving board with my classmates looking on, I felt paralyzed. All I could envision was going in headfirst into the chilly water to my death. I was convinced that my head would hit the bottom of the pool and that would be that. Dead at age 11. So I chickened out. I instead went in feet first, plunging in, falling deeper into the water and frantically kicking my legs to propel my pubescent body to the surface. The sense of relief I felt was all encompassing. But shortly after, as I swam to the other end of the pool and hoisted myself up and out, I felt horribly ashamed and embarrassed about myself. Unfortunately, though I had multiple opportunities to attempt diving again throughout the rest of the swimming section of our gym class, I stuck with the chickening out method of jumping in feet first every single time. I’ve periodically wondered over the years how different my life would have been if I had had the guts to dive into that pool headfirst, for real.
Now, for those who know anything about my upbringing, it would be easy to conclude that as the youngest child (my next oldest sibling is 8 1/2 years older than me), whose father was always overly cautious in all things (true stories: growing up, I was not allowed to mow the lawn or ride my bike beyond the busiest main street of our town as dad deemed these activities to be too dangerous for me), I was predisposed to chickening out when something scared me. While that may be true, I am now a grown woman of 50 with a husband, two kids and a grandson, so there is no point whatsoever in playing any sort of “blame game” here. For all I know, my dad preventing me from participating in some activities could have saved me from serious injury or even death. His overly cautious nature was directly linked to the abundance of love he had for me. I totally get it. However, in a lot of aspects of my life I remain a “chicken outer” (my refusal to drive in big city traffic is one prime example).
As a slightly neurotic, people pleasing overthinker, blogging brings up a boatload of fears for me, such as:
That I will inadvertently share something about someone in my life whom I care about that will cause them emotional harm and negatively impact the way they feel about me.
That I will express an opinion in a post that could be conceived as too controversial by some, causing others to shun me or harshly criticize me.
That I will come across as self-absorbed and share too much of my personal life, thereby embarrassing my family.
That I will simply run out of topics to blog about and fail miserably as a blogger.
I am quite certain I could sit here all day, tapping away on my keyboard as I come up with a million and eight reasons to be afraid of blogging with my authentic voice. But really, what a horrible waste of time that would be.
I’ve heard it said that people on their death beds often do not speak of regrets for those things they had done, but rather for those things in life they hadn’t done. This makes great sense to me. That is why I’m making the decision, right here and right now, to dive head first into blogging. At least I’m guaranteed to not hit my head on the bottom of the pool, right?
4 thoughts on “Fear”
I really liked your post. I am also in my early 50’s. Anxiety is my demon. I hate to put blame on the parents but looking back I can see how I developed such emotional baggage. Keep writing, don’t be afraid (easy for me to say) writing is great therapy. I’ll be following your blog, Take care and breath well.
Thank you so much! I sure didn’t want to sound like I was complaining about my childhood though as it was pretty awesome overall.
Very nicely written and an easy read 🙂 Good job.
Thank you so much. I really appreciate any and all feedback.