Halloween is here, which means it’s time to get scared. Whether it’s horror movies, or haunted houses, many of us enjoy the exhilaration of fear as long as we’re safe before we go to sleep, but what about the fear we carry with us to bed.This isn’t some form of adrenaline pumping high we get from being chased by a clown with a chainsaw.
This is a very real and controlling power in our lives if we learn to recognize it. It can be used for fun or even to motivate and improve ourselves. Unfortunately, it can also be very damaging if we let it control us.
I was chatting with a friend the other night, and of course the election came up. When the idea of voting for a third party was suggested, my friend spat out the well-worn idea that “if you don’t vote for Trump, you’re pretty much voting for Hillary.”
This irked me. Not just because I fundamentally disagree with the sentiment, but that this idea is founded completely on fear, and it applies to either side of the two main candidates.
We are afraid that a candidate we hate will win, so we vote for somebody we don’t like. If everybody just abandoned this idea, we could set aside our us-vs-them mentality and vote for somebody that we actually like, or at least respect.
I wanted to say something to her. To tell her how wrong she was. I should have, but I didn’t. I held back a stream of arguments and sat in silence because I let my fear of her reaction dictate my actions. Looking back on the conversation, it’s hard for me to figure out who was more wrong: my friend for her fearful voting reasoning, or myself for not pointing out her fear because of my own fear.
This type of thing is an all too real occurrence in my life. I have sat quietly rather than standing up for myself, my beliefs or my friends on more than one occasion because I was worried about what others might say. As much as I’d like this to be a resolution or goal for just me, I feel like we can all benefit from this.
How many jobs have I not taken because I was afraid I couldn’t do it? How many times have I dragged my feet through a relationship until it ended or let myself become complacent because we’re afraid to change?
We all know the famous quote by Franklin D. Roosevelt who said in his first inaugural address, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”
It is this kind of fear that we need to eradicate from our lives. Fear can be healthy. It helps us stay alive.
It drives us to take care of ourselves and those we love.
Rational fear is good. But when we let irrational, senseless and unwarranted fear make our decisions, we lose the guts to do something as simple as telling our friends why we think they might be wrong.
And really, is that so scary?