By Amanda Kohr
Whether it’s the dark closet in the basement, the weird octopus dish at that French restaurant, or the DropZone at your favorite amusement park, we all have things that send shivers down our backs.
Fear is a normal and natural part of life. It’s what keeps us from putting our hand on the stove, or wandering off in the forest by ourselves. Fear has the power to keep us safe, cozy, and comforted. But what if we keep fear from allowing us to try new things, or explore a cool activity?
Have you always wanted to try gymnastics, but fear falling off the balance beam? Do you want to join your friends on that big roller coaster at the park, but heights make your stomach drop? Or maybe you dream of acting onstage in the school play, but you can’t imagine auditioning in front of your friends. We’ve all been there. Everyone experiences fear, whether they admit it or not. But while fear can be a helpful tool, it can also keep us from pursuing some of our deepest dreams.
Sometimes we have to think about our fears and wonder if they’re really worth being scared over. So what if you fall off the balance beam? You can get right back up. Olympic gymnasts probably fell down a lot before they got to be holding that gold medal. The most respected actors all had to go on hundreds of auditions, where they were probably really scared, too. Everyone has fear, it’s just a matter of whether or not we choose to allow it to make all of our decisions.
It’s more exciting (and more fun) if we try the things that scare us. Below is a list of tips to help get you started.
Write down your fears. These can be anything: You’re afraid of your neighbor’s dog, riding a bike without training wheels, swimming in the deep end, trying out for soccer, eating stinky cheese, playing in the attic alone, going to sleepaway camp, entering a hula-hooping contest—whatever! They are a lot easier to understand if you see them on paper.
Talk about them. The best thing about fear is that everyone experiences it, so you can find lots of people who understand. Once you know what you’re afraid of, talk to your parents, friends, a teacher, a coach, or someone you trust about what it is you fear. They’ll help you look at it from another perspective, and maybe see if it’s something worth being afraid of.
Do something that scares you! If something inside of you really wants something, but fear is standing the way, don’t let that be the thing that stops you. Try something small and scary first, such as eating a new food (Hawaiian BBQ taught me that SPAM wasn’t so bad!), or going to a cool club meeting for the first time. Once you start doing scary things, you become braver and braver. Soon you’ll be trying all sorts of exciting adventures!
All of us have fear, but we’re also all very brave. Once we start doing things that scare us, we become more able to tackle unexpected challenges and try new adventures.
What are you afraid of?