By Anna Wheat
A recent article published in the NCBI (National Center for Biotechnology Information) got me wondering, is it possible to be proactive with my regrets? The article surveyed people in the latest stages of life, asking, “Do you have any regrets?” The most commonly reported responses typically had to do with spending too much time on people or things not in alignment with one’s true self. After reflecting on those survey results, I couldn’t help but wonder how I would answer that question. Knowing what I know about myself, my most likely regrets would stem from missed opportunities caused by fear and anxiety. This revelation left me inspired to take control of the fears that might stand in the way of my ideal life.
Fear is prevalent among us all, and can significantly shape our lives and how we perceive human existence. Though some concerns may be less significant than others or seem “silly,” we all have to find ways to manage these anxieties. I think it’s also important to analyze and understand the frequency of fear in our everyday lives. Do you experience fear very often, and does it regularly affect the way you live your life? Maybe there’s a better way to trick our brains into focusing more on what drives us, instead of what holds us back and scares us.
I’ve found that fear goes hand in hand with control, and most of the time we fear things we have no power over. Worrying and overthinking about stuff that will never happen causes us to avoid doing certain things. We love to contemplate the big things, but usually, we can only control the small things. If you find yourself focusing on achieving perfection in all aspects of your life you will never be satisfied, and taking control of your life will likely never be a possibility.
So, can we put an end to letting fear restrain us? You have to be able and willing to recognize what frightens you, slow down, and figure out what you can do to move forward. Also, acknowledge how you react when you’re afraid. What physical changes do you notice when you’re anxious or scared? Do you run from fear and trepidation or try to fight it? Do you make a lot of excuses or do you see opportunities for improvement or a solution? When you make excuses it goes back to that sense of control. The excuses make you feel safe and in control, but you can still feel out of control and take action to see the patterns in your own life and where you need to make changes. It’s nearly impossible to identify these patterns until you follow the fear and your response to it.
Think about what drives you, and what you’re passionate about. Passion is all about how you feel about what you’re doing and the way you’re living your life. Passion will invigorate you. Think about how you can grow into what you want to be. Pay more attention to what energizes you and when you find your passion depleted. This is how you’ll grow and start to align your life with the things that give you energy, and less with what scares you and stops you from being the person you want to be. This is not a solution to just completely stop being scared or anxious. Fear and anxiety are normal human emotions, and we can’t just cut them out of our lives. However, I do think that we shouldn’t let these emotions drag us down and stop us from taking chances. If we remain allowing ourselves to be a slave to anxiety and worry, we will continue to make decisions that in the end, we’ll regret. I know I don’t want to be one of those people who at the end of their lives wished they had done more. I don’t want to be someone who didn’t follow their dream or talk to someone who could’ve changed their life all because I was too scared. Being fearless is not the absence of fear. It’s about going after what you believe in and living despite your fear.
Anna Wheat is a student at Mabel-Canton High School. She is one of 17 area students participating in the Journal Writing Project, now in its 24th year.