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I've been feeling scared a lot lately. The fear of failure, of being left behind, of the world. I'm scared of public transportation, of eye contacts, of paying groceries and other people queuing behind me. I know it makes no sense and it sounds stupid but I want to write about it either way. I guess, in some ways, I'm willing to treat this like a therapy I never got to experience in real life, with a shrink. Similarly, to remind myself that despite what people say, my fear is real.
Fear is a parasite. It stays in my brain, clogs my conscience and feeds on everything that is joyful and positive. A Dementor's kiss from the inside out. Dirty smoke of anxiety clouding up the mind. Fear is a benefactor of anxiety and depression. Together, they form a band of night demons whose performance cause a dysfunctional stage in my mind. This concert has since then turned into a full fledged festival in my head, an event that is preventing me to go out and see people.
People scare me, especially strangers. Public transportation makes my heart race. Phone calls make me jump. Uber rides make me hold my breath. Walking among strangers make me feel judged. Eye contacts make me uncomfortable. Ordering food makes me stutter. Paying for groceries with people lining up behind me makes me unable to withdraw my banknotes without fidgeting. I am overwhelmed by fear and borderline paranoia.
Irrational fear is real. It's as real as any other fear. It makes me squirm, jump and shake. It leaves me frozen, paralyzed and dysfunctional. It's that feeling of not being able to go to job interviews by myself, that feeling of not being able to speak up sometimes. Everything is an irony and a contradiction to who I really am. Somewhere beneath the mayhem of this bitter festive, I know how I should be or act and I know, I know, I know. But knowing is not enough...right?
I remember when fear crawled under my skin the moment I realized I left my earphones at home. Anxiety raced through my veins, hot lava and bubbling acid as I felt something standing on my chest, preventing me to breathe. I had wanted to run to the nearest mall and bought myself a new pair of earphones. You would think such a small device and I was overreacting. Maybe I was and maybe I am. Maybe this should have been something that I find a solution to on my own. Maybe this, maybe that — so many maybes but still it does not invalidate my fear.
Public buses scare me. I don't take them. I ride and am alright with taxis and Ubers but not public buses. The thought of accidental physical contact towards unexpected strangers makes me want to throw up. The image of a crowded bus and having to stand up in front of strangers sitting down makes my stomach churn. The possibility of a sneaky little hand that may lead to unwanted physical contact or a missing wallet makes my head spin and my heart race. And beneath all this fear and worries and a crap ton of cold hands and feet and excessive sweating, I know that I need to stop this. All the knowings and countless what-ifs and yet, here I am, stuck in a pit that despite its irrationality, is always true.
A person can actively say he or she is scared of certain creatures; of little bathroom crawlers, of insects or bugs, of this and that. But when it comes to fear that is not measured by tangible, obvious objects...you don't hear them discussed very often. This fear, this parasite that stays invisible under a magnifying mirror or a microscope, this fear that is muddled and incomprehensible — they are ridiculous or quaint or fake. They tell us that it's stupid, that it's superficial and that it's "all in our head." They tell us anxiety is not real, that paranoia is not real, that fear is just a myth we repeatedly tell ourselves until we believe it does exist, like the story of monsters hiding under our bed. They speak of my fear, your fear, our fear like it's a lie unless proven seen and touchable.
Well, it's not.
Here I am writing an essay not to whine about my situation but rather, to remind me, you and us that in order to work this out, we have to first accept it as truth. Whatever your fear is, whoever causes your fear or however your fear is triggered, it is not a lie. Just because Fear itself does not harbor a physical container to store its entity does not mean it's not real.
We used to believe in the monsters we shared our room with so maybe, right now, it's time for us to start believing in them again as a group of parasitic bugs.
If you'd like, you can share with me what your fear is so we can all feel less alone, less alienated.