'I am afraid of talking to people, being an asshole, and running out of things to write. Other people's lists of fears may run a little more like, being randomly murdered, spiders, and heights.
But regardless of the words that fill that list, in our world, most of our fears are irrational. They don't make sense, and they stop us from doing things that would improve our lives.
For me, I have found that my fear of people is most crippling. I have difficultly talking to people on a pretty basic level, and when there is even a small language barrier, the ease with which I can find an 'excuse' to not talk to people is startling.
"We can't communicate very clearly," "I'll bring it up after I learn how to say it in Punjabi," or the long term pal, "She looks a little down today, I'll ask when she's feeling better."
Although I had this fear in the US, I knew people better there, and as long as I didn't strike up conversations with strangers I was pretty okay with dealing with my network. But now that I am in a place where I know no one, I have discovered that I am a complete push-over.
I currently work at a school here. The purpose of this visit was for me to introduce some new methods from the US, or just from my own research, and then implement them in the fresh-slate kind of way that only someone who hasn't set themselves in any method can. And yet, whenever I do anything different, I am bowled over by the other teachers. Not intentionally, of course. But as far as they can tell, the reason I am doing things differently is because I am simply ignorant.
And I don't correct them. So far the only time I stood up to a teacher and said, "No, I will not do what you ask," was about two months into my new job, and it was because one of the teachers was asking me to quite vehemently to slap a kid.
It took me two months, and a teacher refusing to give me an eraser for me to verbalize why I don't use physical violence! The next day when a teacher undid the work I had done with the kids - using a new method - and wrote what she thought they should learn over top of it, I stayed silent.
So far my irrational fear of people has caught me in it's trap, and it has kept me from doing the very thing I came here to do; to experiment, to try a new method, and to teach. Instead I have quietly played with kids in the corner.
We all have these fears, many are probably not quite as damaging and ubiquitous as "people." I mean come on, Elianna, did you have to fear the very thing that you will never be able to escape - the very thing you can't escape? But nevertheless, all of us make a swift exit to stage left when certain things arise and the problem is that - in the 21st century - almost all of those fears are irrational.
A while ago - think beginning of humans - being scared of people made sense. You had no clue of they were going to club your head in for the deer you just caught. You only needed to communicate with your little network of trusted people.
Today... that is not so true. We have set a nearly world wide trust through societal structure, and although I shouldn't go around trusting every rando who comes my way, or people who have broken my trust, being afraid of talking to someone who I have worked with for the last two months is just stupid and damaging - to say the least.
Taking a step back to the even bigger picture, fear, across all species is essentially a call to action. Originally, that was fight, flight, or freeze. If there is a lion, we can make a quick decision based on the tools at our disposal, our relative speed, and how hungry he seems to chose which to do. But today, the range of appropriate responses to fear, has expanded.
When we feel fear, we can now also, take the time to over come it. Just collapsing into it into the default three responses no longer makes sense. Because our fear is archaic; it is an ancient drive to protect ourselves from things that no longer threaten us.
Now don't get me wrong. Fear is still useful. But instead of just running away, lashing out, or stopping in our tracks, we can now take the time to mitigate the things it is alerting us to.
If we are afraid of people, we can use our minds to discount those fears on a mental basis. Then we can move on to challenge ourselves to do the things we are terrified of doing with the knowledge that there will not be negative repercussions, or at the very least what ever comes will be something significantly less upsetting than a club to the face and starvation.
Elianna DeSota is a young teacher who is obsessed with deep diving into new cultures and ideas. Right now she is on a journey to discover more about India and herself before jumping into the next chapter of her life.