Showdown with the Bogeyman
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Showdown with the Bogeyman

I am scared of the dark.  I will sit staring wide-eyed into the night hoping that my pupils grow to a cat-like diameter and allow me to see more than what my terrible imagination creates out of various shades of black and blacker.

I have been known to check not only under my bed, but behind dressers and in small linen closets, places no human could possibly ever fit, before turning out the lights.  I have to convince myself, beyond any doubt, that there is not a killer waiting to pounce once my eyes are closed.

This is embarrassing to admit, since I’m almost 30 and therefore an actual, certified grown-up.

I’m also scared of commitment, which is a much more adult fear to have and therefore not nearly as humiliating.  However, it’s pretty typical in our generation, so I kind of feel like a jerkface admitting it.  All the cool kids are afraid of commitment.

Except that’s not really true.  The coolest people I know have committed to something or someone.  I think that if you go into it with eyes open and gut leading the way, it is a strong person who is able to say, “this is what I want and I know this One Thing is worth not having all those possible Other Things out there.”  That certainty kind of blows my mind.

I have never felt that sure about anything.

Which is why it’s scary – it’s less a fear of commitment and more a fear of committing to the wrong thing.  A fear of settling.  A fear of missing out on something that’s good for me because I’m just not sure, and of settling for something that’s not great for me because I’ve never been sure.

The whole world is open to me, there are too many options, and if my gut doesn’t feel strongly about anything, I have no compass with which to navigate through them all. I’m in the dark, straining to see more than shadows and trying to keep my imagination in check.

And because of that lack of certainty in myself, I have another completely unreasonable fear: the fear of what others think.  They go hand-in-hand, merrily skipping down the field of my psyche, trampling daisies and positivity.  I start to question my choices and doubt myself, and my brain fuels it, building a bogeyman who grins at me with his wicked gleaming teeth and tells me what kind of a failure and shiftless lazy whiner everyone thinks I am, and how I’m never going to get the life I want so I might as well settle for just OK.

I know he’s full of shit but he’s so persuasive.  I want to hide under the covers but I know that when he appears, slinking out of the dark corners of my mind, the only thing to do is turn on the light.

I tell myself:  I have time.  I make good decisions.  I will know when something is right.  If I make a mistake, it’s never really a mistake.  I can have my best life.  I have friends who love me.  I am a good, smart person.  I am worth love and respect. I remind myself of all the things in life I’ve achieved that I’m proud of, and all the instances where I’ve proved stronger than I thought I was.  Poof!  In the light, the bogeyman who seemed so menacing a second ago is nothing but a pile of clean clothes in the corner that I’ve neglected to put away.

Fear will always be lurking behind that winter coat in the back of my closet, waiting to come out on dark days.  But I refuse to let it terrorize me.  I know that, as much courage as it takes to face it, all I really have to do is shine a little light to see that there is nothing to be afraid of.

{photo source: ~borzikako~}

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