It’s all enough to make you shut your door.

In a recent post, I wrote about how when we’re children, we don’t have much of a mindset. Things are a little different now that I’m 31. As an adult, I overanalyze things to death. I’m plagued by anxiety (or used to be, although it still flashes from time to time), and while I can shut my mind down and go to sleep most nights, it’s taken a concerted effort to reach this level, and maybe that’s the most important takeaway. When you’re a kid, you flow from one activity to another. You don’t give the outside world too much of a thought, but rather, you do what comes naturally, with hopefully minimal interference from parents. You just go.

I won’t beat a dead horse, but my childhood was different than most. Even so, I had no perspective on life, so it wasn’t too difficult to continue being me, even as everything shifted around me. I had action figures, and I’d make up elaborate storylines. I’d pick up a sketch pad and draw whatever popped into my head, or I’d use pictures to guide me. I’d make up games in the yard, pulling characters out of the computer games I played, and while my parents might have been concerned with how much time I was spending alone, I never thought anything of it. I was too busy letting my imagination run wild. I was just hoping to catch up.

I miss those days every now and again because life was complicated, but somehow simpler at the same time. I didn’t think it was weird that it was just my dad, my sister, and myself for a few years. I didn’t think it was weird that we had so many babysitters. This was life, my life, and as far as I was concerned, this was how it was supposed to go. There was nothing else I wanted. On occasion, dad would make me go out for the baseball team, or to sleep-away camp, and I’d have an amazing time. The anticipation always made me uneasy, but once I got there, I’d stop worrying and just be myself. I wasn’t totally thrilled when we added members to our family, but part of that was because I was no longer alone. I now had to share my world, and I wasn’t used to that.

I was so busy with a chaotic upbringing that I forgot to be afraid or anxious. It wasn’t until the end of my high school career that I experienced a little bit of fear, a little bit of discomfort, a modicum of anxiety, for the first time. Things had been so messy during the formative years of my life that rarely did I find a quiet moment to sit and think about it all. It’s only when you have time to reflect, when you talk with a therapist, with friends, or with family, that you realize you haven’t processed what you’ve experienced. You can’t avoid it all forever.


And the fear creeps in, like pollen carried by the wind.

You won’t notice when it happens, but suddenly, you realize that there is fear in your life, and that it’s playing a role in your decision-making process. There are things you never used to give a second thought, and now they’re dictating your actions. Once that fear becomes a living and breathing thing in your existence, it’s hard to remove it from your psyche.

At some point, you become an adult. There are different ways to mark this change. There’s the standard 18 years of age, but I didn’t feel like an adult at that age. There are different definitions, but for the purpose of this post, I’m going to say it’s the day when you start to become afraid of the world, or when you realize that there is fear residing within you. One day, it sets in how scary and challenging the world can be, and you are never quite the same after that. Some respond to it better than others.

The child we once were is gone. Maybe it emerges in certain moments, but for the most part, the lens through which we see the world gets distorted. Change is scary. We find a way of life that’s comfortable, that seems to make sense, and we do our best to maintain that state of affairs. Rather than running at the future without a care in the world, the way we used to run the bases in a game of kickball, we try to control our environment, and mold it to our liking. We try to stay put, to maintain the status quo once we get to a place we like, or even a place we don’t like. More than anything, we want predictability.

I’m afraid of losing control. I’m afraid of not being enough. I’m afraid of failing. I’m afraid of wasting time. These are the bigger, existential threats, but my fear also extends to more tangible things. I’m afraid of getting too much sun when I’m out running or at the beach. I’m afraid of the ingredients in scented candles. I’m afraid of not getting enough sleep. I’m afraid of not having enough time in the day to do the things I want to do. I never used to look at the clock, and now I can’t stop. There was a period of time where I’d walk into my therapist’s office, and I’d carefully place the clock face down. The ticking hands of the clock would eat at me.

When fear enters the picture, there’s a period of adjustment. These newfound feelings will sweep you away if you don’t push back a little bit, or at least figure out how to deal with them. When we begin to understand what’s happening to us, when we’re able to talk openly about it, we begin to reclaim some of our courage. It turns out that the world wasn’t any less scary when we were younger, but rather, that we were ignorant of its dangers.

The key is to regain this fearlessness we once had, but that’s easier said than done. The stakes are higher than they used to be. There are people in our lives that we care about, people who may depend upon us. Maybe there will always be fear, and maybe that’s not such a bad thing. The key is to keep living life with energy and passion, to live with the fear. We need to get comfortable with the uncomfortable thoughts and feelings that we experience, and we need to not push so hard against them. Focus on what you can influence, and learn to relinquish control of what you cannot. Thanks for reading.


One thought on “Afraid

  1. Fear. The ego-mind. Our amygdala. Each are a part of how we are hard-wired. Yet how we choose to interact with fear can yield new self-awareness and mind-set shifts. I love and can relate to the paragraph in which you cite some of your fears, Adam. I share some of them. But then you introduce the concept of pushing back/relinquishing control. I like to think of relinquishing control as simply allowing or being ‘in flow.’ So, once again, I will share an aged post of mine that, I believe, aligns with and supports your perspectives. (Plus it has a great video). 🙂

    Your words, “And the fear creeps in, like pollen carried by the wind.” is beautiful. I sense (and applaud) you are finding constructive ways in which to diminish some of your fears. Bravo!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s