Everyone has a fear or two. For the longest time I just thought that my fear of death was the only one I had. As I have gotten older I’ve begun to realize that my fear of death actually stems from my fear of the unknown.
When I was 9 years old my Uncle passed away unexpectedly. For the next two years I had a lot of nightmares about dying. Thousands of questions about the unknown after death would grip me in terror in the middle of the night. It was about this time that I lost any faith I had, because I couldn’t get a satisfactory answer to my questions about the unknown.
Up until the last year or two, about once a year I’d get so wrapped up in my thoughts about the unknown after dying that I’d given myself a mini-panic attack. I would spend a few hours crying over that feeling all the while being unable to sleep because of the darkness. It has been awhile since I have done that, yet those questions for the unknown still remain:
“Will I see the people I love?”
“Will I be able to talk?”
“Will I be able to think?”
“Will my conscience die and I cease to exist?”
“Will I have to watch the world go by and not experience life again?”
There is no end to the questions once they start. Not only is there no end there really isn’t an answer to the ones if they are about life after death. Those are just shrouded in mystery forever. Lately, I have noticed that my questions have more to do with the unknown than they have to do with a fear of death.
To me, there is nothing scarier than the unknown. Yet, as scared as I am of it, I’m not someone who lives with a planned future. I can’t calculate my life like that or live by a rigid set of rules and goals. Even though I know having a goal would actually give me a greater sense of relief, because I could see part of my future. Somehow that just seems to escape me.
“What is so scary about the unknown?”
The fact that I can’t see it or know what is going to happen next. The unknown is linked to the future and the future can’t be predicted. The fact that I can’t predict it bothers me. The fact that I don’t know if I will get everything I want scares me. I’m a person who dwells on the past and fears the unknown future. It is no way to live, but it is how I face a lot of my days. When I analyze how I think I realize how silly it must all seem. If I actually decided to make a plan and take steps towards achieving small goals I actually would be able to predict part of my future. Now that isn’t to say that I could predict everything as life happens and things change along the way. Yet, if I did do that then I would be able to have a sense of things that may occur. I know that if I knew something may occur then I would be able to expect it and maybe it would relieve some of the strife I put on myself.
However, I don’t take any of my own wisdom to heart. I actually like living in the moment with no plan. Though planned individuals tend to be more successful, I’m just not someone who tends to stick to a straight line. Maybe this is the metaphor of my life. Or a sign of the times. I like to deviate from the norm though I have never vocalized that. As I never wanted to be seen as different and at the same time I know I live a life different to most people I know. My unconventional life hasn’t really helped me with my goals or my fear of facing the unknown.
The unknown is like the darkness that creeps in at night and you can’t see well. Once your eyes adjust to it you can stumble about just fine, but if you are floundering around because you can’t seem to adjust to the darkness it just makes terror settle in your heart. At least that is how I feel. The fact that it has no identity and it won’t tell me what will happen infuriates me. On the other hand the unknown makes my mind run wild with fantastical fairy tales. It lends itself an open door to a creative mind that can think up all the most horrible circumstances or the most sought after ones.
My fear of the unknown is hard to explain to others. I know that unless you actually fear it, it is hard to relate to. I have found that especially since I am at a crossroads in life not knowing what will happen bothers me. That I am trying my hardest to embrace the unknown, but it makes me very uncomfortable. I want people to know I would feel more secure in myself if I knew that something I wanted may surface from the unknown in the immediate future. Better yet, if I had something I could visualize a future of, whether it be a career, home, love, family, etc., I’d feel more secure. But the only thing I can see is a giant empty slate. There is no writing on the wall. No path to follow. It’s just empty. That emptiness bothers me though I am trying to embrace it.
The unknown also plays on my biggest negative thoughts. It feeds the cycle of my negative thoughts in the fact that it knows I am curious if I really ever will achieve everything I hope for. And there is a chance I might not which scares me even more. The fact I might not get what I want and I will never know if it will happen because no one can know the future (unknown). So how do I face the unknown and move forward in life if I am scared of it? I have yet to figure this out. Part of me just wants to accept that it is okay to be scared of the future. It is okay to worry that things might not work out how I want. I need to know that there is no way to predict what will happen. However, if I make an effort towards something there is a chance it could happen.
A fear of the unknown is like dancing with a stranger. You aren’t really sure which song is going to come on or what is gonna happen while you are dancing, let alone at the end of the night. It could end as you expected or it could surprise you and end in a way you didn’t expect. So for now I’ll just assume I’m dancing around with my fear and on the days I look it in the face I can maybe catch a glimpse of what might come my way. But on the days I choose to look away I won’t have any idea what might happen.