"I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear".
Fear. That unsettling feeling in the pit of one's stomach, that unexplainable emotion that overcomes us at different points in our life. And which will rule us for a moment or longer, as we feel saturated with sadness or aggression. Bringing us to the bursting point and at times plunging us into the dark abyss of our minds.
We can feel different kinds of fear; fear of being hurt, emotionally and physically. Fear of changes, fear of abandonment, fear of failure, fear of loneliness, fear of not being accepted or loved. Fear of loosing control, fear of being ridiculed. Fear of loosing someone or something. Fear of the future. Eventually fear of death.
And perhaps of life itself - the worst fear of them all.
We grow up with fear as an emotion. Some will claim that we are born fearless and only learn to display fear, as we sense it from our parents. Of course, as we grow older, unpleasant experiences lead us to harbour fear for certain situations or events.
A small dose of fear is actually good. It is indeed vital. Some people suffer from a rare condition called "Hypophobia". This means that they can not recognize danger and have no sense of fear. Individuals that experience this disorder are not afraid of anything, which can eventually lead to devastating decisions or choices. However, exaggerated or an irrational fear gives rise to phobias, which can impact our lives in the most haunting ways.
I know that my own fear, or the feeling of anxiety has certainly risen with age. Sometimes I envy my "young self", almost admire her at times. That young girl that packed her bags and flew half way around the world to the unknown. Without an ounce of fear, only an adventure in mind. Who never lost sleep or worried about the future, left problems in the dust and stuck by her ideals, never accepting that which was wrong, feeling empowered by her conviction.
Today she is only a distant memory.
I have developed a few phobias over the years, my fear of flying being the main one. I have also noticed that I dislike enclosed spaces and at times crowds of people, situations that make my heart race and my adrenalin level to rise.
I can lie awake late at night, woken up by a slight wind breeze, as strange and unnerving thoughts enter my mind, consuming my whole being, making me afraid. And making me wonder, where are the times when my sleep was heavy and undisturbed.
I guess ignorance is bliss. Not knowing the danger, not having anything to loose makes us brave and daring as young. Later in life, when we closely considered the consequences of every change, when every step counts and when making the wrong turns comes at a cost, we grow more cautious and we become more weary.
I have at last surrendered myself to the fact, that I might never be fearless again. As the summer of my life nears its end, I seek tranquility and stillness. Sometimes I long for a change, as I reevaluate my achievements and sometimes I still feel the calling of adventures ahead. And perhaps when my gut tells me they feel right, I might give into them one more time.
Today I know that fear is a constant that will be present in my days - in one form or another - for the rest of my life. It will rule my consciousness occasionally and at times, it will be justified. However, some fear has to be conquered, as life lived in fear is only life half lived. Playing it safe at all the times is futile as after all, we never know what tomorrow brings.
I have realized that as I grow more afraid with age, I also grow - in a certain way - more courageous.