February 22, 2012
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You see a man sitting on a bench to your left. He is alone, as are you. You are both waiting for a train. Time passes, and the man seems nervous, anxious, agitated almost. Just as you go to ask if something is wrong, three men appear from either side of you and attack the man. They savagely beat him and either don’t notice you, or don’t care. In horror you watch as they brutally assail him, laughing as though it’s all a sport to them. What do you do? Run? Call for help? Sit there? Intervene? You know the choice should be obvious yet you remain, frozen in fear. Why?

Fear. It’s a powerful feeling. Some say it’s a survival instinct kicking in to preserve you from what your body feels as danger. Others insist that it is merely an obstacle formed naturally for you to overcome. The English language uses the term as a singular word, yet fear as a subject is incredibly, almost impossibly broad. There is a fear of roller coasters, for example, which grips you and terrifies you, but it it’s still surmountable. Yet the fear of death is something else entirely. Better judgment and common sense would dictate that you call the police or stop the men, but no matter who you are, the end result would be the same, that moment of absolute and initial terror. That key moment when you decide what will happen next.

For some strange reason, our bodies always anticipate the worst. You have n o way of knowing what will happen yet fear makes us believe and assume the worst. Be it trying something new, such as skydiving, or asking out the person of your dreams, or simply talking to someone. Fear forces us to assume that we will fail and suffer horrible consequences. Fear is an obstruction, but at the same time it’s beckoning you to challenge it, to push yourself to new limits.

“We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” Wise words, but debatable ones in their honesty. Fear is beatable. I personally believe fear is nothing but a test of willpower. A challenge that will reward you greatly if you succeed. I feel that it’s nothing more than something asking you if you’re really sure you can do it.

Of course, it’s easier said than done. It’ll always be easier to sit back down in the plane and put your parachute away. It’ll be easier to delete that text before you send it. But is it worth it to take the easy way out? What do you gain by giving in to fear? Nothing but regrets. What’s wrong in trying? What could you possibly lose from trying the Cantonese chow mein instead of the traditional American version? Will you die from food poisoning if you eat it? Did the other people die from it? No! What about taking a left turn, instead of your usual right? You’ll get to the same destination in roughly the same time, so why not? Where’s the harm in trying something different? You can be so afraid of something so simple that you barely even notice it; you just keep doing the same thing. So challenge it. Challenge your fear. Why sit idly by when you could be out pursuing new things? You never know, you might just like it.

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