I believe in running with monsters. Not the kind that live under my bed and pop out periodically to scare me, but rather, the kind that I can carry around with me in my head. I believe in confronting my fears and fearing them only enough to appreciate the reality behind them. As an avid runner, I am constantly coming up with new ways to occupy my brain while I exercise. While I run I am constantly thinking. It’s such a boring exercise that I need something to occupy my mind or I would give up the activity all together. In my meanderings I sometimes touch upon the idea of fear, and the extent to which I must accept it. Everybody has something to fear, for fear is an emotion that is inherent to all thinking beings. Running with monsters allows me the opportunity to go through the fears, disappointments, and realities of the day and organize them. To me, a certain amount of fear is healthy. It keeps me motivated and driven. This preoccupation with healthy fear was instilled in me early on as I was raised in a conservative Christian family. The fear of Hell was real, as was the promise of Heaven. These two “realities” were ingrained in my head as the be-all-end-all of things. It was rather impressive to a child of five. I’m sure I viewed life quite differently after the particular Sunday school lesson in which I was told that I should fear for my eternal being unless I accept Jesus Christ as my personal savior. Of course I began to think for myself as I grew older and matured, but the rudiments of healthy fear were still there. As a maturing child, I became more and more aware of a nameless darkness outside my ever-shrinking comfort zone. Even a family gathering, while filled with love and hope, was tinged with an undercurrent of fear and despair. I accepted this aspect of life without question. Life will get me down, and it is my responsibility to pick myself back up. I learned to never fear fear itself, but rather learn to deal with the fear and appropriate its effects to the necessary area of my life. This belief kept me motivated throughout my years as a child, and now that I am on the threshold of adulthood, it looms its head once again in the form of college applications, music conservatory auditions, and the general question of: What am I going to do for the rest of my life? I retain no anxiety about this fear, but rather, I embrace it. It has subsided from the outright dread of my younger years to a dull, throbbing trepidation that wakes me up in the morning and motivates me to persevere throughout the day. It does sound rather morose I suppose, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Because I run with monsters every day now, I am not afraid.
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