Fear of the New

This morning on the walk to work, I had a tiny flash of inspiration, then put it aside for later contemplation. (Dear all – welcome to my later contemplation.) Anyway, the thought process went like this:

“What keeps me from being more?”
“Fear, duh.”
“But don’t people tell me all the time that they wish they had the kind of courage that I do to go off to new places, and to try new things?”
“Well, yeah, but that’s different.”
“How’s going to a new country any different than going to a potluck at your neighbor’s house?”
“One involves hanging out at the airport and people watching, then taking a flight and getting one of those cute little boxed dinners, and maybe a wine and cheese snack, plus movies on demand…”
“Smart ass.”
“OK, yeah, I know what you’re getting at. Travel should be much scarier, but it’s not, because I won’t let it be.”
“Bingo.”

There have been plenty of times in my life that I’ve been terrified of new things. Not quite on the level of actual neophobia, just scared to take the plunge. And I’ve done it anyway. It takes guts to put yourself out there. It’s hard to strip off all of the armor in front of people – even people who love you, whom you know for sure won’t laugh, or hurt you intentionally. But to be more, to be bigger, to have more fun, even, you’ve got to trust that the fear isn’t going to kill you. And it’s a platitude, but in this case it’s true that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

There are some things that I probably just won’t be able to do again until I get the proper mental help, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t gently ease myself into other new situations, like going out to see music, or to the opening night of an art show. So maybe it’s nerve-wracking to go to a house party and be stuck in a bubble full of people and talking and alcohol and too much interaction. But I know that I’m happy going out alone, on my own terms. And I know that I’m good with one-on-one situations, and even small groups. So let’s plan a few of those over the next 39 days, shall we?

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