Who Are You In Fear?

 Image credit: Dylan Spitz

Image credit: Dylan Spitz

Fear is a hard experience to escape when it becomes the only friend you have for miles. When I wake up in the middle of the night, and others may be sleeping with their pride, I find myself on my back wondering who I become when fear is all I am in.

I am no longer where I was, so I guess in fear, I am movement. 

I feel love more anchored than I had, so I guess in fear, I am in love. 

There are tears in the back of my eyes that have yet to fall, so I guess in fear, sometimes, I’m too much of a brave face. 

The last few months of my life have been drenched in fear, for myself, for someone I love deeply, for the woman I am becoming and the one I knew wholeheartedly I had to leave behind. My fear is the push I needed to accept that the her I was, she’s no longer real, no longer here. Instead, she’s the foundation to the person I am now pouring into. For better, for better. 

My fists were clenched, until they weren’t anymore and you could see the light reflect off the gold bands on my fingers. Each band held promises, to myself and the future that is deserving of the woman who is navigating her way through fear, heart first. My eyes, they stopped squeezing shut and I looked directly at his actions, not his words, probably to his regret. I looked at my truth, to my empowerment. There rested calmly the halves of hearts, rightfully mine, rightfully his. For better, for better. 

And I say for better because I mean it. Fear comes into our lives and gives us the opportunity to own our own person more or to become a reflection of someone else’s mold of us. I’m standing in it, when the days are good, and when they hit me with waves. 

On those days, the worst days, fear put tension in my back, made my shoulders creep up an inch a second, and wrote questions on a foggy mirror that read, “Where are all the adults?” because I couldn’t be the only one.

Because I’m only twenty-five. 

Because life is scary. 

Because I like the extra “r”, the one that exists in "partner" and not in "parent." I’m now scared of moments without it. Because it strips accountability, leads to complacency, and makes children out of those old enough to fly alone. 

In fear, who are you? Fear is the reason I move forward because staying on a shelf, in the same place, it feels disrespectful to the woman I am becoming. Mostly because it is. 

In fear, who are you? I am an adult. Maybe because I never had the chance to be a child. Maybe because I didn't want to. Maybe because I like growing up. 

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There’s a Latin phrase - memento mori - and on the surface it’s a Pinterest led fad that when written out in nice font speaks beauty to its translation, “remember you will die.” In fear and actuality, it's rooted in philosophical text, and how you internalize it is a litmus test in how maturity and fear overlap.

For those that see fear as a written permission slip to be careless and dismissive of everyone but themselves, memento mori is the perfect alibi for a reckless and yolo mentality. It gives a reason to our madness and a place to point the finger when the dust of our actions clears. 

If memento mori grounds those to quicksand, then accountability is just a word in the dictionary. 

In actuality, the two words speak to the whisper from humility on the power of introspection. That regardless of how high the mountain top, we are still only 6 feet of its height. No more, no less higher than anyone else standing straight. No more, no less likely to be on the receiving end of a phone call that brings us to our knees and cuts our height in half, while doubling the presence of fear.

We are all going to die, worldly possessions don’t go with us when we do. Who are you in fear? In success? Are you a good person? All we have to our name at the end is how we made people feel and our reputation. Does that truth comfort or scare you? I stand in the middle of fear and realize that for all the ways it makes hearts beat faster, it’s also the best check for how we show up in our lives and the lives of those around us. 

Too often fear pushes some into hiding, like a kid whose boogie man can’t get him in the closet. Except, fear never really stops finding you, the same way hurt isn’t something you can shake off without dealing with it. 

Who we are in fear, it speaks to who we are as people. Are we led by ego, when what’s asked of us by the moment is to show up fully in all the emotions we carry and to learn to grow from where we are? There’s a lot to be said about the ability to show up as multitudes in a world that tries to narrow your worth down to your job title and the content you’re producing. Isn’t it scarier to exist in a world that will only like us if we follow? Isn’t it debilitating to know that we are only worthy to be invested in so long as we act as puppets to other people’s perceptions of us? 

I throw up a little when I see how people’s first reaction to fear is to turn to the negative forces in their lives to keep them under the umbrella of illusionary comfort. Their voices are loud, not because they have your best interests at heart, but because they don’t disagree with you. 

I am in love, in fear, and in anger. I am a triple threat of a woman whose “triple” rotates given the season and the reason. 

For all the ways fear has woken me up in the middle of the night, I wouldn’t be writing if it didn’t. I wouldn’t be listening to new voices, new definitions of love, new wishes for me. I wouldn’t be standing in old ways, in anchored lessons, with two feet on the ground. 

Who does that scare more?