A Simply Frightening Fear

By Mac Pomeroy

Everyone has a fear of some kind — clowns, heights, the possibility of dinosaurs coming back from extinction and using our dead remains to power their vehicles as some weird form of revenge. For as long as I can remember, I have suffered from a very specific fear: my own balance … or my lack of balance.

I genuinely do have poor balance. I was never a graceful child, and that carried on well into adulthood. However, my fear goes beyond that.

Walking into a wide space causes me to panic. Being near stairs causes me to panic. Even right now as I picture either of those situations, my hand shakes, and I have to go back and fix a lot of typing mistakes.

Typically, when people discuss fears, they discuss how to get over them. Yet, it isn’t that simple, especially in the case of phobias. Many phobias can even be called rational, meaning the reason is valid and the phobia was created due to self-preservation instincts. This is the case with my phobia.

Especially if you have rational fears and phobias, getting over them is highly unlikely. But life needs to go on, with or without your fears. So, it’s a much more reasonable solution to learn how to cope with your fears.

Mac’s Column: Being near a staircase causes Mac Pomeroy to panic. Photos by Frances Clause/The Jambar

The most important thing when it comes to coping with your fears is to accept that you have the fear. If you have an extreme fear, it will be much more difficult to cope if you deny it.

By accepting your fears, you can figure out a plan to cope. There are many different ways to cope, including simply avoiding your fear. Are you afraid of clowns? Avoid the circus. Afraid of flying? Don’t get on a plane. Scared of sharks? Don’t go in the ocean.

But if this method always worked, then handling fears wouldn’t be a problem. Instead, this is simply for dealing with more specific fears. After all, you don’t run into clowns, planes or sharks in daily life. But if you have a more common fear, like spiders or the dark, then you will have a more difficult time avoiding it.

Another method, and one that I personally use and suggest, is to just ask for help. Sometimes it is OK to rely on others. Fears are a perfectly normal, human thing. You should not be afraid to ask for help.

Whenever I find myself alone and stuck right beside some stairs, I panic because I feel like I am going to fall down.  By having someone with me, I don’t feel as unstable, and I am less likely to succumb to my fears.

But even this isn’t a flawless method. Sometimes you really do need to attempt to get over your fear. If you are afraid of the dark, for example, you can’t avoid it, nor can you always guarantee someone will be there.

For fears like this, you need to remind yourself that danger in that situation is extremely unlikely. If you are afraid of airplanes, for example, it is far more likely that the plane you get on will have a safe trip. If you are afraid of spiders, it’s important to remember they are unlikely to do you any harm; they are way more afraid of you than you are of them.

Realizing your chances of danger or harm in a given situation can help reduce your fear greatly. In most cases, your fear is of a very rare situation.

I don’t think I will ever stop being afraid of balance, nor do I think that would be a good idea. My fear stops me from attempting tasks that would not be OK with my lack of grace.

However, I can’t let my fear control my whole life. There are a lot of stairs and open fields on campus, so that would be an unwise idea. Rational or not, I have had to learn to cope with my fears and carry on in my daily life.

Have a frightening Halloween, everyone!

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