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WHAT ARE YOU AFRAID OF?
Because families across the nation just spent the last month donning scary costumes, running through haunted corn mazes, and competing for the title of the Best Decorated House, I wanted to spend some time exploring the subject of fear. Everyone knows what it’s like to feel afraid: faster breathing, pounding heartbeat, turning stomach, and racing thoughts. Fear plays an interesting role in people’s lives. Sometimes fear can motivate, and other times, it can be paralyzing — both literally and figuratively. While fear is an involuntary response, the variance in its stimulation is quite interesting. Take arachnophobia for example, or the fear of spiders. According to the American Psychiatric Association, up to 40 percent of phobias are related to bugs. Whether arachnophobia stems from frightening personal encounters, hereditary reasons, or from watching the cheesy 1990 thriller and parody film of the same name, being afraid of spiders is one of those fears that just doesn’t make much sense.
reaction. She said, “Kyle, you just need to get over it.” Her curt response was somewhat jarring initially, but I found that it was exactly what I needed in order to move past that fear. And while it still crosses my mind from time to time, my arms don’t tense up at all anymore. While that fear was paralyzing, my biggest fear to this day plays a far bigger role in my life: the fear of the first day. Perhaps the most frightened I have ever been was the day I went to my first college class. I was still in high school, but I signed up for a college-level economics course at U of M-Dearborn — the only class I would ever take there! I was so nervous for my first day because I had never been on campus before. So I had to print out a map, figure out where to park, find the building, locate the class number, and then hope that none of the real college students could tell I was still in high school. My extreme dread leading up to that day caused me to overprepare, which meant that everything went according to plan. Then when I started school at Michigan State the following year — Go Green! — I walked in feeling far more confident and ready. By taking the time to examine each of these fears, I was able to see just how differently they functioned in my life. Some fears can be genuinely useful, while others just linger and do nothing for you. It’s up to you to figure out which one is which.
arms and hands would tense up. This tension wasn’t the kind associated with the prototypical new-driver fear. It was a result of genuine terror coursing through my veins. For several years, I had no idea why my body responded in this way. Then I started having a recurring dream of being in a car accident. When I told my mom about this dream, she told me that it wasn’t just a dream; it was a memory. Apparently when I was 3 years old, my mom, my brother, and I were in an accident that left our car completely totaled. She said that either my brother or I had asked her for something, so she took her eyes off the road for a split second and accidentally clipped the side of a semitruck. While the car was totaled, all of us were completely fine. To this day, I don’t remember the accident at all. The only part I can remember is that two kind Samaritans let us stay in their motor home and gave us cookies to eat while we waited for the cops. Although I didn’t remember the accident, the involuntary response plagued me every time I passed a truck until I was 20 years old. Then one day, I was driving with my grandma, and she noticed my
“Sometimes fear can motivate, and other times, it can be paralyzing — both literally and figuratively.”
While the creepy crawly things don’t bother me, I’ve had fears that were somewhat similar in nature. When I got my driver’s permit at 15, I noticed that every time I drove past a semitruck, my
–Kyle Matthews 1 (248) 543-0340www.janetdaviscleaners.com
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