COLUMN:Fear everything and fear nothing

By Marisa Karpes, Columnist

By Marisa Karpes, Columnist

You are on top of the Empire State Building looking down. Saying the people look like ants is an overstatement. Suddenly, the world goes dark and you cannot tell what lurks around you. Danger could be anywhere. Before you can react, you feel something creeping and crawling all over your skin. Spiders. Many of them. Flinching, you take a few steps and, all of a sudden, feel yourself fall.

Fear drives everything we do. Whether a fear of heights keeps you from high places, or a fear of spiders makes you jump and flee every time you see one, fears dictate your actions. Although some people may come off that way, no one is truly fearless.

Even though fears carry a negative cognition, they are by no means a bad thing. Most times, fears keep us out of danger; that is their purpose. If fear did not exist, the human race would be reckless, and we would certainly be close to extinction (if we were not extinct already). Fear doesn’t just keep us alive, however. It could be argued that all of our other fellow animals use it as well to survive. The moment a gazelle hears a lion coming, it knows to flee. Fears are the key to survival.

But we can’t let fear get in our way.

Although beneficial in some cases, fears also stop us from reaching our full potential. Fears keep us out of danger, but sometimes what we are scared of will not actually kill us. And, as that famous pop song says,“what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

The dark, a common fear among children, may hold danger in certain circumstances. More than likely, though, a bedroom at night with all of the lights off is not going to be dangerous. While some spiders are poisonous enough to kill a person, most spiders that we encounter on a day to day basis are essentially harmless. Not saying that caution shouldn’t be taken in the dark or around spiders, but rather we should be aware of how much are fear drives us around these things.

Fears almost keep us too safe. If we don’t face our fears every once in awhile, we will never venture out of our comfort zones and staying within the bounds of a comfort zone hinders any chance of growth and development in self. We can’t always play it safe.

A shy person, who may be scared of talking to people, needs to face their fear in order to make friends. A person who never takes the elevator all the way up will always miss out on a beautiful view.

Having fears is essentially the equivalent of having a double edged sword. There is no shame in having fears, for they are a natural instinct for staying safe. However, without them, we have the potential of becoming better people. We need to find the perfect balance of embracing and letting go of our fears in order to live the most fulfilling life possible.