Monday, October 5, 2009

Tears For Fears

I was in swimming lessons from ages five to seventeen.  Every Saturday.  When I entered the level where diving was introduced as a new requirement, panic swarmed inside my stomach.  I watched as the instructor showed us how to kneel onto the edge of the pool deck and dive into the water.  My hands clenched by my side and my stomach flopped.  I snuck into the bathroom and waited until I thought my turn to dive had passed.  I did this every and any time we had to do dives.  I managed to avoid conquering my fear for years... until it became time to be a lifeguard.  

I secretly confessed to my Nationals instructor my secret fear of diving.  There was a segment in the course where everyone lined up on the edge of the pool deck.  I watched each and every one of them dive into the water.  They motivated me and encouraged me to do it.  Friends would stand beside me, helping to position my body the correct way for entry.  Their confidence and support helped me overcome the dread associated with diving that day.  I was filled with delight when I finally vanquished what I used to think was out of reach. 

Reliving that day and realizing that it's better to not to repress what intimidates me, still doesn't relieve the pain associated with thinking about what tyrannizes me.  

When I was in Jr. High, I remember stressing to no-end about getting tests back.  My heart would pound in my chest as the teacher would call out names one by one to go up to the desk and pick up your test.  I hated this.  Sometimes I'd tell my teachers I'd rather not know.  Don't get me wrong, I never ever did poorly on a test.  I was a 90's student but it still didn't change the fact that the possibility of doing bad made my stomach ache.  My teachers would laugh, shake their heads, and shove my test in my face.  That same sense of relief I felt when I conquered diving always consumed me when I became conscious of the fact that I did good on a test.

I know it's irrational to run from your fears.  It's irrational to pretend to be happy wallowing in oblivion because we can't repress the unknown forever.  And, when asked "would you rather be hurt by the truth or be happy believing a lie" I always respond "truth" because I'd rather be faced with reality than pretending to be impervious.  

It's hard to face your fears.  But once you do, you can shove them in your past and wave goodbye.  Saying goodbye isn't pretty but it's uglier living a lie.

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