For this week’s Finish the Sentence Friday post, I’m supposed to talk about my greatest fear.
Well, that’s awkward.
Guys, I’m a mess. I’m claustrophobic. I’m afraid to drive after dark or go outside on windy days. Maple trees terrify me. Big dogs, little rodents, unidentifiable noises when I’m alone. Basements. Bridges over large bodies of water. Thunderstorms. Car washes.
But here’s the thing about fears:
We all have them.
If you want to tell me that you are fearless, that nothing frightens you, go ahead. I will look you in the eye and call you a liar. Then I will turn and run like hell, because I just happen to be really afraid of confrontations.
Fear makes people do stupid things. When I see a snake, fear makes me pee.
When my boss glides up silently behind me and starts talking just a few inches from my ear, fear makes me spin around and shout, “For the love of God, woman, would you PLEASE wear a bell or something?!”
There was a time in my life when I thought of myself as fearless. I went to scary movies and convinced a group of my friends to sneak into an empty “haunted” house in my neighborhood. I even spent a few nights in a local graveyard where it was rumored that Al Capone’s mistress was buried. Local legend said that Flora liked to rise from her grave and dance at midnight, but she never seemed to feel much like dancing on the nights I was there. I never saw anything but a few bats and some people who were as gullible as I was.
I was a bit of a risk-taker. I went to a college in another state where I knew no one; I tried parasailing and rock climbing. I went on blind dates and fix-ups, and I took chances that make me want to go back in time and slap my younger self.
But I wasn’t really fearless when it came right down to it. I had one big fear that I just couldn’t face.
As long as I talked about my book without ever writing it, I never had to face the fear that maybe I couldn’t write a book. If I never let anyone read my work, no one could tell me to give up because I lacked talent As long as I never actually finished writing anything, I never had to face the fear that maybe, just maybe, I wasn’t really a writer.
I spent years talking about writing, learning to write, planning to write. I was dedicated to my dream, or so I told myself. I can look back now and see that the only thing I was dedicated to was my fear of failure.
And then life dropped a tree on my head.
So, now I’m afraid of maple trees and thunderstorms and sometimes the color blue if it’s the exact shade of the tarp they threw over my face during the rescue. I can have a panic attack every time I see a treetop bending in the wind. I’m terrified every time my kids leave the house because I understand now that all it takes is one second, one instant, one fluke of nature to take a life. I’m a neurotic mess who is pretty much afraid of everything.
And you know what all that fear has taught me over the last five years?
Life is short. There are no guarantees. “See you tomorrow” isn’t always a promise; sometimes, it’s a lie. All it takes is one mistake, one accident, one horrifying diagnosis, and guess what? Maybe you don’t get that tomorrow.
Do you have a dream that you’ve been putting off? Well, what are you waiting for? Whether you dream of writing a book or learning to paint or driving cross-country in a Winnebago, stop putting it off.
Take a risk.
Don’t let fear tell you to put it off until tomorrow, because you never know when tomorrow just might drop a maple tree on your head.
There is freedom waiting for you,
On the breezes of the sky,
And you ask “What if I fall?”
Oh but my darling,
What if you fly?”
― Erin Hanson
This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post. This week’s sentence is “One of my biggest fears I ever had to face…”