By: Kevin Sheehan, Special Columnist
With another Halloween season under our belts, I continue to wonder why people enjoy being afraid. Maybe it is because fear is strictly based on an individual’s perception? After all, some people may have a fear of heights while some go skydiving. Many people are afraid of snakes, yet some choose to have them as pets.
While some people may choose costumes that resemble a different life style, or profession, others may choose a different species or inanimate object all together. But nobody can truly emulate the real fear that each and every one of us have: being alone.
Being alone is never really in the script in most of our lives. We may not necessarily want a mate, but any relationship that encourages emotional attachments helps us not feel alone. Even introverts who prefer to stay at home still sometimes desire someone to stay at home with them. A single person with a dog can’t help but feel lonely when that dog is no longer around.
It’s an unstated fact, that most of us fear loneliness more than anything else. It will drive people to stay in unhappy relationships, because being miserable is somehow still better than being alone. People state that public speaking is among their top fears, even above death. Yet if that person were not to have a single person ever hear them speak, they might reconsider that fear.
We are transitioning into that time of year when family and being together is consistently shoved into our faces- and there are many of us who may not be close to our families. While suicide rates may not be high as other times of the year (common belief is holiday suicide rates are the highest while statistics prove this theory false), it doesn’t mean people aren’t depressed or stressed over the holidays.
True fears are not zombies or witches, but ourselves in our deepest core, realizing that we actually have very little control in our lives. True fear is never being able to actually love someone, or loving someone completely and then losing them. True fear is the apology you never received and then realizing that you were never due that apology because you were wrong in the first place. True fear is looking someone in the eyes that you love, and watch them walking away for the first time. True fear is saying you will do things before you get old, and then wake up with a cane beside your bed and a warm familiar gift of vertigo.
True fear is not the apprehension of dressing up and going to a party, it is saying goodbye for the final time. True fear is not walking up to the girl/guy of your dreams, it is when you walk away with no hope of seeing them again.
True fear is a car with no engine and likewise a heart without a heartbeat.
Loss. Sadness. Loneliness. Emptiness.
Things we will never be able to recreate, reenact, or experience ever again.
But none of those emotions make life less worth living. We may decide to not walk up to the girl/guy of our dreams, but unless we do, we may never know how far it will go. Life is scary, and while being lonely by choice may remove the fear of rejection, it does not remove the fear of loneliness. It can be easy to become a self-fulfilling prophecy in which we never allow ourselves to become close to anyone, but the end of that story will be us sitting in an empty room weeping bitterly thinking, “I chose this.”
Fear is never a reason not to do something. It can be a reason to be cautious, but go: jump out of that plane, say hi to that girl/guy, go and laugh, connect, and love. After all, what are you afraid of?