If you asked me the question “What are you afraid of?” a few years ago, I would have shrugged it off with an answer of “heights” like it was no big deal. We’re all afraid of little things… things that make our flesh crawl. For my husband, that’s spiders. If you put me up against a glass window in a skyscraper, I may pass out. My mom jumps on a table and screams when she sees a mouse.
There are big things, too.
In the world of Divergent by Veronica Roth, the Dauntless tribe must be tested against their fears. One of the main characters is nicknamed by the remarkable fact that he has only four fears. Four. Each fear for these individuals is a crippling fear, and one they must fight through to prove their bravery and belonging in Dauntless.
So if I had to pick four – just four – fears, what would they be?
- Heights, obviously.
- Eternal solitude. I like being alone for about two hours, then I’m miserable. The silence – or even the white noise – becomes unbearable.
- Deep sea creatures. So. Freaky.
- Oblivion. The time before, the time after, the creation and cessation of consciousness… the vast nothingness of the unknown. All that. In here. Biggest fear. I will start hyperventilating if I think about it too much.
Out fears and insecurities are the things that define our character – you can be afraid of anything. The way we respond to our fears shows if we are rational, irrational, calm, collected, panicky, dramatic, cowardly… or dauntless. Fears are natural – they lead us to invent things, to guard ourselves and those we love, sharpening our instincts. They are essential to survival.
Mine, for instance.
My fear of heights will keep me away from fatal falls (if I have anything to say about it).
My fear of solitude will keep me surrounded by family and friends, who will teach me new things and help me grow.
My fear of deep sea creatures will keep me from venturing into deep water, preventing opportunities for drowning and hypothermia.
My fear of oblivion will keep me from willfully ending my life.
What are you afraid of? What do those things say about you?
“What are you afraid of?” – Plinky Prompt; Feb. 4, 2009