By: Elizabeth McDonald
Fear. How is it that one word can evoke such a broad range of emotions amongst people? In the past, thinking about something I was afraid of had the ability to make me anxious or overwhelmed. As I stood in front of the dark garage of the old Itmann Company Store full of dead trees, rotting garbage, piles of dirt and who knows what else with Eliza, Anthony and Marta, I felt those two emotions overcome me. It wasn’t the dirt or garbage that got to me (although, that was pretty intimidating as well). It was the “who knows what else” part. Something about the unknown of what lay in that garage caused me to feel a strong desire to back away and leave the task for someone else to do. However, I knew this was not a plausible solution so I began to shovel away at the pile. It was monotonous work, if I’m being honest, but it gave me plenty of time to think. To think about life. To think about fear. To think about what drove my fears. To think about what about the unknown caused me to be overwhelmed. With each shovel full of “who knows what” that I lifted into the plastic bags, I came no closer to figuring out the meaning of life or even why I had this somewhat irrational fear of the unknown. However, with each shovel full I did get closer to clearing out that garage. It took the four of us several hours and countless bags to clear out the entire garage but when we finally tied the last bag and chucked it over the side of the dumpster, I felt this huge sense of pride in what we had just accomplished, an emotion I had never related to fear before. I may not have learned what drives my fear of the unknown. I might not be any closer to understanding how to overcome a situation that overwhelms me. But I did learn that the feeling after conquering a fear is indescribable. It’s a feeling that I want to feel more often and therefore will strive to find opportunities that challenge my fears.