While I work on a more *scholarly* piece for this blog I figured I should still publish something a bit lighter, both to Please My Rabid Following and because I’m really trying to create good writing habits and positive reinforcement. I think a real short thing I’d like to talk about here is fear.
As established in my last post, I am a Professional Afraid Person. I can be pretty afraid of other human beings, academic challenges, getting out of bed, the state of world politics, administrative tasks, etc. Unlike normal fear though, anxiety takes over your body. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve lost feeling in my extremities, my fingers tingling and my neck and throat cramping up. I go light headed and my abdomen starts to sporadically contract, as if flinching from an anticipated punch. It’s one of the less fun things I’ve experienced.
As we also established in my last post, I’ve gotten much better at handling my fears through meds, therapy, and practice. Truly, I’ve just gotten better at ignoring the fear and controlling the physical symptoms in order to do what I wanted to do in the first place. One moment I was able to break through my fog, though, was during my high school graduation.
I volunteered to speak even though I knew I would sweat through my dress and probably make ALL of the poorly timed Freudian slips. I still kinda think I was crazy to do that as someone who has a terror induced adrenaline rush just knowing I have to interact with another human being. That being said, the speech actually went pretty well. In an ironic sadistic quirk of my Creator, I’m actually good at and weirdly enjoy public speaking. And, as I’ve continued to improve my mental health, I’ve done this kind of thing more and more.
DISCLAIMER: THE ADVICE I AM ABOUT TO GIVE IS FOR PEOPLE WELL INTO RECOVERY OR WHO DO NOT STRUGGLE WITH MENTAL ILLNESS IN THE FIRST PLACE. DO NOT FEEL BAD IF YOU ARE NOT THERE YET. THIS ADVICE MAY ALSO NOT BE GOOD IF YOU ARE AN OVERLY IMPULSIVE PERSON, WE ARE ALL SINGULAR DELICATE FLOWERS WITH INDIVIDUAL NEEDS. THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME.
Okay, now that we’ve got THAT out of the way, I would like to outline my technique for dealing with fear. STEP 1: Determine whether your fear has evidence to back it up. Is the thing itself scary or dangerous or are you just worried about fucking up or not being prepared for every uncertainty? Figure out why you’re scared and if the fear is coming from you or other people or societal expectations.
STEP 2: Fuck it all to H*ck. That’s right, if it’s safe (meaning you won’t die or cause terrible tragedy) just do it anyway. If you piss your pants while giving your presentation? Great, you wouldn’t be the first. Afraid you’re going to vomit in your date’s mouth if they try to kiss you? Hey, it’s something to tell the grandkids. If the human you love tells you they don’t love you back, heck, you wouldn’t want to be with someone who doesn’t absolutely adore you, right?
I know, I know what you’re thinking. This is hard! Easy for you to say after you’ve done the things and been successful! Have you ever even been publicly humiliated before!?!?! Whatta n00b!
Okay so first all, rude. Second of all I have D-E-F-I-N-I-T-E-L-Y fucked up loudly and in public before. Every time I’ve ever asked someone out, I’ve had to call them back because I didn’t actually articulate what I wanted to say the first time. Every. Single. Time. I’ve walked around with butt sweat stains for longer than I care to admit and no one bothered to tell me. I’ve auditioned for an improv group and couldn’t stop laughing and breaking character even though no one else was laughing.
The Fuck It/ Just Do It method is really paradoxically simple. The best advice I can give you is to just keep Doing It. Allow yourself to recover after vulnerable moments, but make those vulnerable moments an inherent part of life. Message people on dating apps. Write a blog. Tell people you like them. Go braless. Submit an application for a position you want but think you have no chance of getting. Give yourself so many opportunities to be rejected (along with reinforcing yourself with small victories) that one specific rejection just becomes a thing among many, not THAT SUPER EMBARRASSING THING I DID, y’know?
The Fuck It method isn’t reckless, it’s just about refusing to let fear be a reason not to do anything if it’s actually good for you and you wanna do it. You can fuck up playing it safe, so why not fuck up by taking chances? Embarrassment is human and, more than that, anyone who judges you for taking risks or being embarrassed isn’t someone you want to hang around with anyway. After my improv audition (and the resulting rejection) one of the other people who auditioned came up to me in the dining hall and told me he thought I was really funny. I had actually thought he was the funniest one there so it was ultimately a nice way to connect with someone new and gain confidence.
So yeah, be safe and smart and make good decisions, but also Do The Things. Do all of the things until you feel so alive you actually deserve to spend a day in bed to rest from all of your awesomeness (instead of just staying in bed to hide from the world). Whether you’re afraid of getting out of bed to do laundry or you’re nervous about pouring your soul out to someone, remember that we live in a gigantic death trap and it’s a miracle any of us survive past infancy. And who knows? You might have fun or something.