30-day Writing Challenge – Day 24

Write about a lesson you learned the hard way.

Probably the toughest thing to learn is to try and tackle fears head-on. My instincts for self-preservation through life are deeply rooted in fear. One of it comes down to vanity and the desire to maintain what meagre standing I have in the world, as nobody likes to be seen as the person who doesn’t know or who comes across as an idiot. The other side also delves into relationships, where fear can prevent growth in so many ways.

On the learning side, when I was much younger, I was at once brimming over with ideas, and on the other side, completely terrified of demonstrating what I knew (or didn’t know) about the basics. I hated opening my mouth and asking questions, because I had natural talent, and therefore would not want to look like a fool for asking a question to which I didn’t already know the answer. Completely stupid, yes. One special side skill that came from this, though, was the ability to quickly extrapolate information from incomplete data sets. Later in life, I’ve been able to use this to good effect to keep pace of conversation in a room full of people I don’t know discussing things I have no idea about in the military (or musical) context. I’m better able to keep pace and track what’s happening. It still comes up, though, where I’m in a room full of near-academics and I’m just not in my element. It’s uncomfortable, and that’s the point where I just hang back and listen. Listening is key.

On the relationship side, I just didn’t ever deal with issues, and that in turn spiraled things out of control. Much like with educational fear, I had places that in my mind I wanted to go, but was afraid to communicate with partners for fear that I would be deemed unlovable, and end up alone, which would then spin off into its own kind of special hell. I would often not deal with issues (“put my head in the sand” as was told to me), but I would also know that a situation could be remedied over time through patience. I got through a good decade and a half of not dealing with stuff before it all came crashing down on me. Therapy helped a lot. Having good friends, and now, a partner with whom I share even the deepest, darkest secrets, is tremendous.

Letting go of fear has allowed me to give love and receive love better. It’s also the scariest shit I’ve ever done in my entire life.

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