A prominent writing magazine recently ran an exercise to help generate ideas for writing. Simply list your fears.
The exercise is more difficult than you might imagine. I wrote the first two fears right away, and then for the next couple hours, I'd work on other projects. When a fear surfaced, I'd add it to the list. My list isn't that long, but it does come full circle, which is interesting to me.
What do I fear?
Failure. Could be the first-born syndrome. Could be perfectionism. Could be a lot of different reasons, but I don't like to fail at anything. People learn from mistakes. Trust me, I've made my fair share, but if I'm going to do something, then I plan on doing it right and going all out to experience success.
Dying young. Many reasons why I think this. Obviously, Patrick died at age 39. My oldest daughter's twin brother died before they were born. Young lives are lost for ridiculous reasons, and it makes me wonder who they'd be today. Like the song from Kenny Chesney. Part of this fear is that there are so many things I would like to accomplish in my lifetime, and I haven't even started to make a dent in my list. But genetics are on my side. I told my kids I would live to be 100. Positive attitude is a first step.
Not having enough money to get by. This stems from a lot of difficult times with Patrick and then losing everything when he died. I try not to live outside my means. I've never felt a "keep up with the Jones" attitude. After losing Patrick, people told me that God would provide. And I think that is true at all times. There's a plan for us and even though it's constantly in the back of my mind, I don't dwell on it. What will be, will be.
Losing the best thing that has ever happened to me. I can't imagine a life without Scott. But once you've gone through a tragedy, I think you get into a mindset that something negative will happen again. Even if you keep a positive outlook, I think this animal is stored in the recesses of the brain, waiting to claw through.
Snakes. I don't despise all snakes. Just most of them. Little garter snakes don't bother me. But this summer, there was a pretty darn big one slithering through our yard. I wouldn't walk through the lawn for days. Then I got over it.
Spiders. Ok, certain spiders. Grand daddy long legs don't bother me. Neither do little wolf spiders that usually surface in the spring. But tarantulas? There's something grotesque and hairy about them that makes my skin crawl.
Heights. Mainly, I have a fear of falling. I can get on an airplane and be how many miles above land and that doesn't affect me. But being exposed on something that's a ways off the ground - sometimes even a ladder -scares me. I'm afraid of falling. Which I think relates to fear number 1 as well as the final fear, which is:
Rejection. I'm not sure it's a fear. I don't like it. Who does? Everyone experiences it at some point. I worry about not being 'good enough.' I guess that's the real fear: not measuring up, which goes back to number one on my list.