I tend to think of myself as brave and independent with an underdeveloped vulnerable side, kind of like the Sheila Rae character in the popular children’s books. I may be small in stature but I like being strong, rational, and self-aware and those are the cores of my identity.
That being said, I have some rather irrational fears that I don’t talk about – or think about much either. In the spirit of continually evolving into a more aware strong and brave woman, I decided to actually confront some of the unconscious fears that give me that surreal, vague, clutchy feeling in my gut. You may not be able to relate to these particular fears (and who knows where this stuff really comes from?!), but I’m betting you have a few that you could pinpoint yourself.
Construction workers. The way they stare me down when I pass them in construction zones is enough to make me feel like I’m in an episode of Scared Straight. Even as I’m driving the designated speed and carefully navigating a narrow labyrinth of cones, I always feel like I’m doing something very, very wrong as I pass by. Nervously clutching the steering wheel like a ship’s helm, I feel transported back to the days of the Vikings, fearing their burley beards, grimaces, and the large poles they hold menacingly as if ready to wield at you if your car inches out of bounds.
A big, black Chevy SUV in my rear-view mirror. Yesterday I became aware of this particular type of vehicle traveling behind me and immediately felt my stomach tense up. I then recognized the sensation of innate fear – there was a “bad guy” behind me! The gnawing, inexplicable feeling of danger belied my unconscious fears: What if it was a hit man and this was my time? What if it was an angry soccer mom on her last leg and ready to go postal? What if I wasn’t driving fast enough – would they run me off the road? And don’t deny that you, too, have felt this way about a big, foreboding SUV or truck coming at you with a grill big enough to eat you up.
“Game Day” at work. I was shy growing up and being social came to me rather recently. I still get clutchy when the dreaded words are spoken, “Friday is Games Day!” Oh sure, it’s only office mini-golf or roll-the-ball-into-a-bucket. There will be great camaraderie and team building for all, right? But when this news is announced I experience instantaneous sweating that I can’t explain – unless I remember how badly I do at games when a large group of people is watching me. Like when I got the awards for being the worst bowler and the worst mini-golfer – I’ve got the “Smile and Act Sheepish” thing down, let me tell you.
I’ll keep you updated as I continue to become more aware of my irrational fears. It’s fun (in a way) to recognize the things that cause our bodies to suddenly and unconsciously react. Maybe becoming aware of our bodies and minds can be a fun, educational experience after all.
What are YOUR unconscious fears? 🙂