I met Cynthia at a café in Goa, India, and before that, I had never realised how important it was to define my fears.
She did it with ease and grace with hers, threw it in a sentence whilst talking about the Roses she had named after two dear friends who were no longer in her life. “I am scared of dying alone”. That was her only fear, she said.
I teared up. I think it was a mix of surprise, awe and resonance I felt. I too, was scared of dying alone, more than anything, more than being afraid to Bungee Jump, and definitely more than the fear I felt driving in the backseat of any car in India.
That fear cut deep, touched an emotional part of me I didn’t even know I had. It tore me apart for one second, stripped me of all the layers of confidence and security I had built, and for a moment there, I was naked. Perhaps I was so afraid of it because it was, and still is, a fear I cannot face.
Other than unable to face it, this particular fear reveals a problem that many face: fear of the unknown. And this is why a lot of the time, when our future is uncertain, or we feel we don’t have control over it, we panic.
When Cynthia spoke her fear out loud, although emotional for having been hit with something I resonate with, I also felt extremely liberated. Hearing that fear spoken out loud, processing it my brain as words, felt really good. I knew it now.
It made it lighter, less scary.
That’s when I realised that defining your fears, saying them out loud, and facing them, is fundamental for removing them all together. Other than making them smaller, if you define and face your fears, you can really feel their weight decrease.
And also, in practical terms, what use is it to be afraid of something you don’t know. You can’t really control it, all you can do is trust it and choose your reactions for later.
Every time you face a fear, it makes facing all your other fears easier. This is an exercise that Cynthia had probably done, she had faced a lot of fears she told us. And this is why she could say with so much confidence that the only fear she really really had, was the one she could not face yet.