Our View From Here

Perspectives of Five Women

Irrational Fear, Worry, Anxiety, Paranoia, etc.

on August 30, 2011

As Isabel pointed out yesterday, there are times in our life where it’s reasonable to be scared or cautious. The fear results in rational behavior to protect yourself and hopefully avoid those situations that you are understandably scared of. I have those. It’s bound to happen when you have as many irrational fears as I do a rational one is bound to slip in there every now and then.

I’ve spent a significant portion of my life trying to figure out where these irrational fears and anxiety come from. Sometimes it is a situation where someone should be scared but my fear will amp up higher than it needs to be. My friends will attest to how ridiculous my paranoia can get. Mind you it doesn’t reach a degree of phobia where I won’t leave the house but it is fairly absurd.

For example, I traveled one Spring break with a good sized group of friends to London. While walking through the city my one friend noticed that not only was I walking faster than my normal fast clip but I refused to stop for any extended period of time (like 20 seconds). She asked why I was in such a rush. It simply came to being scared of staying in one place too long in a city. You see my dad had warned me when I was young to not stand around too much in a city because you could get mugged or some such other thing. My special brain amped this up to don’t stop ever! Even if you’re in a group of 6 or more people. I’m getting better in cities. I still have my random irrational fear but now I try to channel it in to just being aware of what is happening around me.

Another example of my over-amped fear center is one my friends still mock me for. On some random evening or reading some random article the reporter was talking about a particular criminal that would lie under people’s cars and when they approached slice their ankles with a razor blade or some such thing and attack them. I got mocked regularly for crouching down to check under my car before entering or leaping in as quickly as possible when I got there. In all honesty, it was fairly silly since I was right next to the car when I’d check. As my friend pointed out, being that close isn’t a very effective way of checking. The “would be attacker” can just slash your face. I’ve mostly gotten over this fear. Although to be honest every so often I’ll be approaching my car alone in a parking lot at night and sneak a peak under it but at least I’ve gotten more subtle with my approach.

There are a couple things I used to be extremely scared of that I’ve actually had to cope with and get through. For the longest time I was terrified of hurting my back and having to get surgery. Then I hurt my back and had to get surgery. It was awful, let’s not mince words but I survived it. I came out the other end literally stronger and healthier. I was forced to workout and develop muscles that quite frankly were probably neglected before (I bet that’s why I hurt my back). Not only did I make it through this big fear I was able to reassure myself that some of my other stupid fears I could get through.

I used to have a sinking fear in the back of my head about getting fired or getting laid off and losing my job. I hated (well hate) job hunting and having to go through interviews. Then I got laid off and lost my job. I was fortunate I found another job fairly quickly but even if I didn’t by the time my actual lay off came around I had a plan. Looking back I don’t know why I was so scared. Wait…Yes I do… It was the concept of suddenly not knowing when my next paycheck would be, that’s still terrifying. Now I’m not as scared of losing my job. Don’t get me wrong. It would be awful. But I’ll do what I did last time. Contact the various people I’ve gotten to know in my industry and check the various job boards and find a job. I know I’m a good, hard worker and a fairly intelligent person. It may not be as short term an unemployment as this time but I’ll get through it.

I think all of the stupid fears in my life helped me push myself to move to a different state away from the comfort zone of home and my parents. I knew the only way to get over some of those fears was to force myself in to them. The same brain that let these fears creep in head had another part that told me I could handle it. I’d like to say I’ve done a wonderful job conquering them all. In truth, I’ve done ok and each day I’m getting better. In the words of the ever witty Mark Twain “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear–not absence of fear.”


One response to “Irrational Fear, Worry, Anxiety, Paranoia, etc.

  1. Amanda says:

    I remember that Spring Break trip. I think we all had to hold you back at one point to keep you from getting so far ahead!

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