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?

The Fear

This weekend just gone, I was sat happily watching a film when something hit me like a tonne of bricks; I’m scared of change. Let me explain further…

I spent the first ~27 years of my life terrified that nothing would ever change, that I would always be miserable, that I would always want to wake up and be someone else or not bother waking up at all. Now, don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t suicidal and I certainly didn’t present myself as somebody who was so blue to the outside world. In fact, many people thought I was a happy person during that time and for many milliseconds dispersed throughout each day, I was. The problem I had was that for every millisecond of happiness, I had another when I realised nothing had changed.¬†

I could never live in the moment and I never appreciated all of the wonderful things about my life because at my very core, I was unhappy, I was discontent and I was very, very unsettled. The obvious solution to this problem would have been to change things, shake up my life until it suited my needs but I couldn’t because I didn’t know what needed to change and I was scared of making things worse. On and on this went, year after year until it just vanished without me even realising it.

This weekend, I was watching¬†The Theory of Everything, the film about Stephen Hawking and because I was on my own, I allowed myself to feel the emotion of the film. (Usually this is a no go because I HATE crying in front of other people so I tend not to risk it.) As I was watching, I realised that the reason it was upsetting me was because I could empathise; for once I could feel the heart wrenching fear that something wonderful was about to change and it was out of everybody’s control. That was the moment. That was when I realised that I have the same fear; I am scared of significant change in my life which isn’t affected my me because I’m there. I’m bloody well happy with what I have, I’m content and I’m settled and it happened without me even noticing.

Somehow, somewhere, the discontent and the feeling of being unsettled just upped and left me. They’ve been replaced by much less aggressive feelings that just bubble away under the surface, giving me a reason to get up in the morning and a feeling of real happiness that keeps me grounded when things get tough. So, if you’re in that bleak place that I used to be, don’t give up, things can and will change, you just need to give it time. When you stop looking for the happiness, it will find you x