This I Believe

Jessica - Sonoita, Arizona
Entered on September 10, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: fear
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I believe in fear, the constant human state of unease. We live it, breathe it, hide from it, and face it. It dictates every action we make. It’s comical how the cynicism of my age makes me so rampant. But talk about something so wide spread: We are all afraid of something. Whether it be spiders, close spaces, getting “caught”, being unsuccessful, flying, the color green, religious persecution- everything.

Mine is death. I remember pondering on it at about the age of six. The pondering session ended in a fit of screams. My parents thought we were being robbed; I had never been that afraid before. They asked me what was the matter and I said something Wilbur-esque, straight out of Charlotte’s Web, “I don’t want to die!” They told me that wouldn’t happen for a long time, but that didn’t help. But what did they know? It was the first time in my life that my parent’s words weren’t comforting: That was a scary thing. Obviously I didn’t die that night, but that didn’t pacify my fear. It was always in the back corner of my mind resurfacing when I least expected it.

I couldn’t fly, because terrorist would hijack the plane. I couldn’t travel outside my home on cloudy days because I could be struck by lighting. Whenever there was a gust of wind I would run for the deepest basement I could find for fear of a tornado. I would research fault lines to make sure there wasn’t the slightest possibility of an earthquake. I kept an extra stash of clothes packed incase there was a hurricane. It was like I was playing a freak game of Yahtzee with the fates, praying that they wouldn’t get a full house.

Contrary to what the psychologist my parents had resorted to said, this didn’t go away as I got older. It got worse. It switched from childish paranoia to down right depression. The most powerful stanza in Dover Beach reminds me: “…For the world, which seems to lie before us like a land of dreams, So various, so beautiful, so new. Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light, nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain; And we are here as on a darkling plain, Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight.”

At the beginning of this essay, it might have suggested that somehow I’m over this fear, but I still struggle with it at the “ripe young age” of 15. But this fear, this thing that haunts me, also calms me. In a weird way, it brings me down to earth. By writing this I have acknowledged the fear. If everyone could harness these strong, omnipresent emotions, we could overcome so many things. In our fear, we are all united. I believe if we learn to accept it, perhaps face it, it is then that we are truly comfortable in the world.