Lately I've found myself spending a lot of time talking a four year old off of a ledge because she is afraid of the dark. After a lot of crying, hyperventilating, and coaxing (on my part), I started thinking about my own fear of the unknown. Children are often afraid of the dark because it's so unknown; they don't know if the shadow on the wall could be coming from a 3 headed monster or their lamp, and they don't know what could be hiding under their bed when they're sleeping. As adults we are often afraid the unknown when it comes to taking big steps in our lives, and that fear can either propel us forward or stop us dead in our tracks.
Don't get me wrong, I was always afraid of the unknown; it's not a fear that just dropped out of the sky. As a child there were just so many things that weren't set in stone, like where I was going to live or what I was going to eat, and this definitely expanded my fear of the unknown, BUT this fear started way before that. As the middle child in my family, I was naturally more cautious and avoided things that I knew could lead to an unpleasant feeling. Ok, I was a downright scardy cat.
As I got older, this fear of the unknown turned into anxiety and it stopped me from getting out of bed in the morning. It was no longer the fear of not knowing what was outside of door #1, but I started to fear more of the unknown outcome of picking door #1 instead of door #2. There were just too many paths that I could go down, all which would've had a different impact on my life. I do have to say that this fear did save me from a lot of overly drunkin nights and bad hookups, but it also stopped me from meeting new people altogether.
Now that I'm in my late 20s, I've started to surround myself with more adventurous people who force me to do new things, but that fear of not knowing what's around the corner still is in the back of my head. Although, when I'm in a big city, this fear causes my fight-or-flight reaction to be super heightened and I'm ready to karate chop anyone who accidentally bumps into me.
The thing that I'm slowly discovering is that (for the most part) there really isn't anything to fear, but fear itself (thanks FDR!). All of those bumps in the night and the shadows on the wall are really just in my head. I recently read that when you're the most fearful of moving forward, you just have to harness that fear and push yourself. Recently I stopped hiding under the covers as fear and anxiety comes up, and I've taken charge of the things that scare me the most.
At the end of the day, what are you actually afraid of? What is it that's holding you back from moving forward?