99% of what we worry about, or fear ever happens. Yet we can spend countless sleepless nights worrying about that 1% chance that it will. Ruminating on the fear or worry allows us to feel like we have some kind of control over the outcome. And many times, we don’t. Which is also why we feel the fear to begin with.
I told a story about my fear of snakes and public meltdown in an earlier post. It was a rather humbling experience and worth a read. And spoiler alert, it was all over a small garter snake. This will have significant meaning later in this post. Long story, short, I am convinced that as we become adults, some of our fears become much more irrational.
Case in point, when I was a kid, we took a family vacation to Orlando to Disney. We stayed inside Disney and when we were there, they were building Animal Kingdom. All the land near the hotel was being cleared out. So, a lot of native wildlife was dispossessed of their natural habitat for Animal Kingdom. I love the irony.
Anyways, one night my brother (who is nine years younger than me, so he was really little at the time) and I were walking outside of the hotel. Lo and behold, outside of someone’s door next to boots that had been left outside, was a giant rattlesnake. We both felt trepidation by his presence, but he was coiled up next to the boots just relaxing.
We both laughed at the nightmare of opening your door and finding a rattlesnake next to your boots. We are the type who find humor in everything. And we laughed about how much we would freak out. We also laughed about Woody from Toy Story saying, “There’s a snake in my boot!” But did we think to turn around and walk the long way to where we were heading? Nope. Not once.
My brother looked up to me and asked if we would be okay walking by the snake. I looked at the snake, coiled up and resting. He didn’t look like he was feeling threatened. So, I told him that we should be okay. I told him to get onto my other side so I would be the one closest to the snake. I told him if he strikes, not to stay with me, but run to get help. He promised he would, and we gingerly proceeded down our path.
We kept our distance and I watched him as we got closer to see if he was getting agitated. He stayed in his space without a care in the world.
We walked past him and came away from it unscathed. Looking back, we were lucky. It was a rattlesnake, after all. But the same girl who freaked out about a small garter snake had no issues as a kid walking by a freaking rattlesnake. Curious, isn’t it?
My point here, is that when we are born, we are fearless. We don’t carry all the fears that we have as adults because we haven’t gained experience to show us what could go wrong. As we get older, the more examples we see of situations with causes and effects, we unconsciously begin to assess fear. As adults we are also much more aware of our own mortality, so we become more cautious.
Fear is usually born out of two things: the unknown and being unprepared for what’s coming. The unknowns are always going to be there in life. But we can lessen our fear of unknowns by equipping ourselves and preparing for it the best we can.
When we are younger, we find humor in things much more easily. Even looking back now, we both find the image of the snake coiled up by the boots funny. It’s even funnier that we didn’t think to go in a different direction! What was wrong with us?! When we first saw the snake there, our laughter about the situation for the unsuspecting person behind the door, dispelled our fear. And we walked passed him anyway.