I was afraid of the dark until I was a junior in college. Honestly, it’s silly. Isn’t that something that most people outgrow in childhood? And yet, there I was, a college junior, sleeping with the light on because I could not fight the fear that something would grab me before I could make it from the light switch to my bed.
This wasn’t an everyday occurrence. I had plenty of nights where I could turn off the light and stroll casually to my bed. I even had nights where I was able to psych myself up enough to turn off the light, run across the darkened room, and leap into my bed unscathed. To date, no monsters have successfully grabbed my ankles and yanked me under the bed. And yet even though cognitively, I knew that there was nothing to be afraid of, I still fought a whole lot of anxiety in college.
Fear and guilt were my constant companions. I’m sure I could blame a part of that on my conservative upbringing, but I know that a bigger part of that was that I kept a lot of dark secrets to myself. I’m not going to go into what those were here. Suffice to say, I lived in fear, and a lot of that fear escaped in college. I had frequent anxiety attacks, although none so bad that I needed medical attention.
This fear–connected to a specific event in my life–created more fear that spread out and made me afraid of a lot of things that I had never feared in high school. I became very afraid of others’ opinions of me and wound up reshaping my life to appease others. That action ruined at least one relationship in the long run. Part of growing up and moving past all of this involves regaining my footing and becoming sure of myself again. It’s a slow process, but it is proceeding.
So my biggest regret? Keeping a secret that created a personal environment of fear. Letting that fear take over my life. Allowing this fear to undermine me and destroy friendships. These days, I am trying to be brave.