How safe do you feel right now?
Today, the sun is shining (well, as much as it ever does in Belfast), the air is cool and the streets are filled with people just living their own lives. I feel like I could take on the world right now, if doing so were to take my fancy.
It’s strange, then, to think that just a few weeks ago I was too scared to leave my bedroom, let alone conquer the world. Everything was the same – the sun was shining, the people were equally dismissive of everyone else, same old same old – but I simply could not bring myself to talk to anyone. The result? I lived on cereal for a little over two weeks to avoid spending too much time in the kitchen with my flatmates. Worse still, for the second week I wouldn’t leave the flat at all. I missed a week of class because of an irrational fear of some unspecified event.
As someone who struggles with anxiety, fear is something that controls much of my life. But I know that I am not alone. Even people who have no problems with anxiety or similar conditions are often controlled by fear. Of course, fear is natural. It keeps us safe by leading us to avoid dangerous situations. A fear of heights could prevent someone from dying by falling from a great height. A fear of spiders could keep you away from a poisonous spider which may bite you. A fear of enclosed spaces may stop you from getting into a situation where you could suffocate. You never know.
Fear, however, hinders more often than it helps. How many times have you (or someone you know) run out of the bathroom shrieking about a spider? In these events, how many times would the spider have been capable of causing any harm? And how many times has it been the person who wanted the spider removed that actually removed the spider?
As I said, fear is fine and natural. I pass no judgement on anyone that has these irrational fears. After all, how could I?
I just find it sort of amusing that the “superior species” is one that is so strongly ruled by fear. We should work on that.