Right now I am going to put aside everything else, to think, and tell you, about my fears. Because in a few minutes I am going to ask you to do the same – not necessarily to write, but to recognize – the things that scare you. I think it’s important to acknowledge our fears because in doing that, if we are very fortunate, we may be able to come to terms with them. But the likelier, and much more valuable scenario is that we will get to further our understanding of ourselves.
Not all of my fears are rational. In fact, if you asked most people I reckon they would say that most of them were irrational. But ridiculous as they are, they are the things that bother me, some of them from time to time, and others every day.
A different way that my fear of loneliness affects my thought-patterns is that I’m always wanting others to share my interests. I’m desperate for people to have things in common with me, and I get overly disappointed when they don’t. For example, I LOVE listening to music so much that I feel the need to broadcast that love to others in the hope that they will share my enthusiasm. The problem with that is that I end up giving my family useless facts about Siouxsie And The Banshees that they really don’t care about. And writing long paragraphs about 17th century novelists in e-mails to my friends…
Now, for an extremely irrational worry: I sometimes panic that nothing tangible, not even myself, exists! It is a crazy thing to believe, but sometimes I do. In this scenario, I am literally a mind, or consciousness and that is the only thing that there is. There is not even a space for me to exist in, because there is no space. As the consciousness, I have cultivated in myself the belief of a world, material objects, and people because I cannot face the fact that there is nothing. There cannot be nothing for “me.” I cannot be alone. And I cannot exist as as a single mind. Therefore I have created a fake body and world for myself. That explains why nothing seems real. How, really, could humans have created computers and the internet? Those things are impossible. So are skyscrapers and running water and a universe we live in that stretches on for infinity. The reason the world contradicts itself all the time is because it does not exist and I have made it up.
The idea is terrifying. Too terrifying for words and for a while I felt like I could tell no-one about it, ever. It is again connected to my fear of loneliness. In fact, it is a concentrated version of it. The worst thing about it is that, in a way, it is true; there cannot be a material nothingness. Neither can there be an absence of consciousness, because without a viewer the world cannot exist. At least, not in my opinion. (What do you think? If there were no creatures to view the world, would it exist?) But anyway, as much as this fear is irrational, there is an element of truth in it. This… consciousness, or mind that there is, is the equivalent of god, except manifested as the viewer rather than an outside force. And if you cast it onto the concept of enlightenment or awakening you may find that they have similar qualities. (The difference is that enlightenment is positive, and is not centered around loneliness.)
Another thing I tend to fret about is the future in general. The future is a time of the unknown, making it the perfect space to project our anxieties onto, especially irrational ones – because on the blank canvas of future time, there is always a possibility that the unlikely might come true… right? Anything is possible in the future because it hasn’t happened yet. It is one of the closest unknowns. I worry that when I move out I will not know how to look after myself, earn money and understand how basic things like politics and passports work. I do not know how to send in applications. Neither do I understand how to book tickets or register contracts. I often try to tell myself that this knowledge will come in time, and that I need not bother myself about it, but there is too much doubt. It is petrifying. As humans we try to refer to past experiences to reassure ourselves of the future, but deep down we know that the future can throw anything at us. We feel like we need to prepare ourselves for that possibility. Ideally, we should balance the two and become comfortable with not knowing. The problem is the weight on the scale can often become uneven when doubt kicks in.
Something else I’m scared of is not being understood. I’m sure it’s something everyone worries about, and it’s one of the most versatile anxieties. I do not want people to take things that I say the wrong way. My stupid remarks are not meant to be taken seriously either. A lot of the time I hold myself back from talking about things I want to discuss because I know it’s likely that people will either think I’m being rude, attention-seeking or too weird for their liking. I do not want them to think I am being fake either. I don’t want people to dislike me because they think I mean something that I don’t. In fact, there are very, very many things I don’t want people to think I am. I am incapable of listing them all here.
Moving on, another idea that distresses me from time to time is the unlikely scenario of my being alone and drowning far out in the middle of the sea. With no land visible in any direction. Especially in stormy weather. I seriously doubt this will ever happen, but the idea makes me very uncomfortable. It is the isolation and hopelessness of it all, and the vast expanse of the sea. It is a fear of the unknown, and once again, a fear of being alone. Knowing that there is nobody to see you drowning, let alone to attempt to rescue you. It is just you and the deep, deep cold water – and whatever lurks beneath. Imagine trying to tread water for as long as possible, to keep your head above just so you could breathe for a little longer, just a few more minutes, knowing all the while that you were going to drown. The instinctive fight of the flailing limbs as the lungs filled with salty water.
There are plenty more things that scare me. Now, though, I am going to ask you to think about your fears. As I said earlier, acknowledging the things that scare you may help you to know yourself better. It is also a fascinating exploration of the mind, and can help you understand why you do and think things the way you do. If you would like to comment, it would be interesting for me to hear what your fears are, and whether or not you could relate to any of mine.
Thank you for reading, and remember to ask yourself “What am I scared of?”