Friday, September 7, 2012

The crippling effect of fear (and squirrels).

Fear is always present, if we let it be. 

It can overshadow our thoughts and our actions, paralyze us from making decisions. Even if we move forward, one step at a time, it hovers, whispering in our ear. (Until we kick it to the curb, that is!)

No one will like you.
You’ll mess up.
That shirt you thought was cool, the one with the orange ruffles and sequins, is completely dorky.
Everyone is secretly laughing at you behind your back.
The squirrels in the basement are out to get you.

This list goes on.

My son entered middle school. Before the first day, he felt overwhelmed with fears, from giant ones to small ones. What if he can’t open his locker? What? He has a locker for gym too? What if he can’t remember two locker combinations? Does he have to change for gym? What if he gets lost on the way to science class? What if he fails math? How will he know what bus to get on at the end of the day?

And these are just the fears he’d talk about.

I’m sure there were secret fears too, lurking in the back of the mind. Fears about his clothing, peer pressure, popularity. All the stuff that maybe felt too private to talk about even with his mom. (Until I bribe him with ice cream and puppies!)

Most of his worries can be traced back to inexperience. After the first day, he admitted he didn’t need to worry half as much as he did.

Same goes with most things.

I fear the basement. (A very sensitive topic for me.)

Red squirrels party in my basement, waiting for me. They run along the pipes purposefully to create noise that strike terror in my heart. They see me sweat, shake, shriek and then sprint back up the stairs while they have a good chuckle and continue to tear into any crinkly paper they can find and store their nuts.

I know that fear is unrealistic. Really, I know. But I still send my kids down to the freezer to get the bag of frozen peas.

Anything in life can potentially cause fear. New jobs. New business. Writing. Publishing. Relationships.

Fear is normal, but we can’t let it control our decisions. Better to fail a hundred times than never try!

What’s your fear? Have you moved forward despite your fears?  (I'm still working on going to down to the basement by myself.)

Laura Pauling writes about spies, murder and mystery. A Spy Like Me, her YA debut novel released in April 2012. Her short story, The Almost Assassin, a prequel to A Spy Like Me is free on Amazon. How To Survive Ancient Spells and Crazy Kings, her debut middle grade will be released in November from Pugalicious Press. Visit her blog and say hello!


  1. I've move forward despite my fear. Well, one of them. I fear venomous snakes, but I haven't done much about that. We fortunately don't have them where I live. :D

  2. I'm scared of my basement too! I've just always feared that something was lurking down there. Recentlly, I watched a special on Animal Planet that was basically a big fake story on mermaids, but it scared the willies out of me. Of course I have a finished basement and I watched it down there, so now whenever I go down there I fear the evil mermaid is waiting.


  3. Middle grade. I fear middle grade. Perhaps that's why I write it. :) Hugs to your son, he'll be fine! :)

    1. OMG - there's not enough money in the world to make me repeat that horrific experience. Kids are so dang mean. I'm not sure I could write realistic MG and draw from my own experiences b/c it would sound like the total "mean girl" cliche.

  4. I'm sure I would fear venomous snakes too! Thankfully we don't have them where we live either. And I pretty much stay away from freaky shows like that, esp. after I watched this infestation show last spring - creepy!

  5. Reading your sons fears reminded me of my own whenever I started a new school. It also makes me want to do what I can to help my own son have fewer fears once he starts school.

    I fear I won't be a good mom.

  6. Self-publishing was and still is scary, but the best fear I've ever faced.