April 12, 2006

The Boogeymen Lurking in My Closet

The night-light was a fixture of my childhood. Like many children I was afraid of the dark, but unlike most children I took this fear to the next level. I was absolutely, positively, mind-numbingly terrified of the dark. The darkness crippled my senses: I couldn't speak, I couldn't move, and I couldn't scream for help. All I could do was curl up into a little ball, shut my eyes tightly, and pray for daylight to come.

I don't know how it happened, but my fear of the dark gradually dissipated. By the time I hit high school, I had mostly overcome my fear. Maybe I became more courageous or maybe I just grew up. Admittedly sometimes I still get the heebie-jeebies when I'm in absolute darkness, but other than that I'm pretty much cured.

I've conquered my fear of darkness, but my childhood fears has been replaced with many adult ones. For instance, I'm afraid of acting too needy so I close myself off emotionally. I'm afraid of rejection so I never flirt with the guys I like. I'm afraid of going into debt so I'm rethinking graduate school. And so on and so forth.

My life is not ruled by my fears, but I recognize that they do hinder me---and I don't like this. Fear leads to cowardice and regret and I don't want my life to be full of regrets. When I am eighty-five years old (hell, even when I'm forty-five), I want to look back at this period of my life and happily say that I lived life to the fullest. And I really don't think I can live life to its full capacity if I let fear dictate my actions.

So now I face the challenge of confronting my fears---whether big or small---and quashing them like little gnats. I'm not very brave and I'm not very strong, but I have faith in myself that I can conquer any trial that comes my way.

Isn't it ironic then that one of the hardest trials in my life is facing my own fears? Isn't it ironic that my greatest enemy is a product of my being?


  1. Caroline, unfortunatly, I never got over my fear of the dark. Trent makes fun of me sometimes, but if he isn't in bed with me, I usually have to have a night light! And I expect Tanner to sleep in pitch blackness. I too have other fears in life, that I feel may hinder my progress, fear of speaking in front of others, fear of being a parent. I guess it is just something we have to live with, and eventually overcome (maybe when we are 85).

  2. wow. how very open and honest of you. I share pretty much those same fears. I suppose everyone does to some degree or another. I heard a phenomenal quote the other day at a fireside. It went something like this: "Insecurity is the worst form of selfishness." I often find that when I allow my inhibitions and my fears rule over me, I am very insecure - and that means I'm only ever thinking about myself, and how others' actions will affect me. What I SHOULD be thinking about is how I can make others feel more comfortable, confident, and accepted. So, that's my new goal - to discard my fear, and replace it with faith. Don't forget how the gospel teaches that fear and faith can't exist together. There are many instances where Jesus counselled us to not fear, but be believing. I think this applies to more than just our faith in Him - it applies to everything: don't fear our own inadequacies, but believe in ourselves - etc. etc. etc.

  3. One of my favorite scriptures is found in D&C 6:36, which states: "Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not."

    It's such a simple statement, but one that I find to be both profound and difficult to fully integrate into my life! I guess I've always been a scaredy-cat and a doubting Thomas... On a sidenote though, I don't think doubt is a bad thing. Working through our doubts helps us to grow---it stretches us.

    And Britt, I'm glad that I'm not alone in the night-light world! Whenever I go home and sleep in my old bed, I tend to sleep with a night-light. What can I say? Old habits die hard.

  4. In response to this blog, and in response to the link you sent me over a week ago, fear is very real and is the ultimate tool to slow our own progression and the progression of an entire nation. I enjoyed reading the Newsweek article, by the way, and am sorry I never wrote you back about it. The end of tax season is near, meaning I've been very busy! Anyhow, it's incredible how crippling fear can be--in an individual, and in a nation, as that author suggested. Soon after I read your article, the princess of Norway visited BYU and I went and listened to her lecture. Princess Martha Louise spoke about Fairytales and how they are actually real stories from our anscestors that speak about their personal fears. (Ex: Cinderella's step-mother and step-sisters are really reflections of herself telling her she isn't good enough, that she should fear reaching her potential.) It was an interesting lecture and made me look at fairytales differently, as well as examine my own fears and what I need to overcome. Thanks for the thought and keep 'em coming.

  5. One more thing...thank you for publishing the links for Anna Quindlen and Rabbi Marc Guillman. I thoroughly enjoy reading their articles and am grateful that you've got me in to them!

  6. Hey J,

    That lecture about fairytales sounds fascinating. I wish I could have been there to hear it! And I didn't know that Norway still had a royal family...

    I'm glad that you enjoy the Anna Quindlen and Rabbi Gellman columns in Newsweek! I'm so addicted to them too---especially Rabbi Gellman's right now. I find his Judaic perspectives on current events very enlightening and very similar to my own beliefs. I also think Quindlen and Gellman provide good opposing opinions; Quindlen (although a practicing Catholic) presents a more secular view while Gellman (obviously) delves into the religious realm.