Why do some childhood fears stick?


Over the last 2 days I have thrown a ball around on a basketball court, (some might call it shooting hoops or something cool like that) and I have ridden my bike round in circles at the local park.

Whoopdy-doo!

Well actually both of these activities pushed me way outside my comfort zone. You see, as a kid I didn’t spend much time playing sport and we weren’t really an outdoorsy family. For me, outdoorsy is clearing leaves off the lawn or re-potting that plant that just will not die, no matter how much you neglect it. What I learned as a kid was how to peel potatoes, build IKEA furniture and play really quietly so that we didn’t disturb my parents.

What that meant was that I never really “got” sport. I don’t have any natural sporting ability and my hand-eye coordination is mediocre at best, so I’ve mainly just ignored the things that other people seem to love. I chose hockey as my sport in secondary school because I knew I’d get away with just standing there while everyone else got stuck in and I deliberately made no attempt to win at athletics in the summer. Why? Well, because I was never going to be the best and that terrified me.

It still does.

Yesterday, the BF spent the first 15 minutes bouncing that basket ball around on his own while I sat on the grass. There were other people in the park so I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t show my weakness, I couldn’t let anyone know that I’m not the best at something. It’s fine to say it because people assume you’re downplaying your talent but showing it proves you’re below par.

Luckily for me, the BF is incredibly patient and eventually coaxed me onto the court where I had a great time missing the (non-existent) net. He did the same thing today, calmly suggesting that if riding my bike down the pavement was terrifying, I could just walk it to the park and start there. There was no judgement, he cycled about 10 times as far as I did but he was pleased that I gave it a go. More importantly, I was pleased that I gave it a go.

So why do some of our childhood fears stick? Why do I still feel like a teenager, terrified of people seeing my weaknesses when I look at a basketball? I’m 30 years old.

My fear of exposing the side of me that isn’t perfect is so great that I miss out on doing things on an almost daily basis. I’ve always been this way and although I hide it better now that I’m an adult, I still know it’s happening. Why has this stuck with me?

It’s not a question I think I’ll find the answer to, just a pondering really. Anyone else in the same boat?

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