Fear is something that makes humans humans. If we lived without fear, our thought process would be disrupted and we wouldn’t be afraid of anything or anyone. Too much fear would also disrupt your thought process: you wouldn’t be able to think in a scary situation.
I was in my room at 11pm and the scary Riverdale intro was playing. The intro was just a neon sign saying “RIVERDALE,” but something about the eerie music and dark swamp made my shivers timber, so I turned on the lights.
Humor aside, I was curious about how our fears affect our actions. If I wasn’t scared of the dark, would I have just continued watching with no care at all?
Perhaps memory plays a role in fear. Let’s say you have two people. One has been punched in the face before and the other hasn’t. The person who was punched is more likely to flinch than the person who has never been punched. One is afraid, one isn’t. Too little fear exposure and your body is not used to it and makes riskier decisions. If you have too much exposure, you’ll likely be very fearful and avoid certain things.
Personally, I am afraid of completely dark spaces. I once went to this exhibition where you went through a series of different events that focused on different fears. At one point I went through a fear tunnel that included darkness and the unknown. It was a pitch-black tunnel that you had to walk through to make it to the next part and when I walked in I couldn’t see anything. Not even a finger that I waved in front of my face. I tried to walk through with my hands stretched out so I could feel where I was going. Mid-way through I felt something hairy on my hand. My heart skipped a beat, and I sprinted back to the entrance. I waited for someone who was also as scared as me to use their phone light to walk through with me following behind. Could I be able to walk through the whole tunnel without going back if I was more used to dark and unknown spaces?
The way that I see fear is in two ways: the first is the reaction of my face burning and legs twisting in my head and my mind going blank. Whenever I am getting scolded by my parents or a principal, my face feels like it is burning and, if it is really extreme, I feel as if I am going to fall due to my legs ‘twisting’.
My second reaction to fear, the more reactive one, occurs when I am suddenly in a really dangerous situation. I don’t think about what I do. One of my knee-jerk reactions broke my phone. I was standing at a bus stop one day and my phone slid from my hand; as it was falling I tried to grab it but due to the momentum my hand couldn’t go under it so I tried to grab it but instead I just slammed it towards the ground even harder. This same thing could happen with fear.
When I was in the dark tunnel I could have done three things: bolt out of the place, freeze in my position or run to the other side. I chose the first reaction because it was the safest option for me. If I had chosen the frozen in fear one I would have been stuck there doing nothing. If I had chosen to run to the other side I would have made it safe and sound but there would also be a chance that I run into something dangerous or bad which would increase my fear.
I think that my fears (or lack thereof) personally define who I am as a person. I love speed, and when I am on my scooter I don’t mind going fast which gives me a personality trait of maybe a daredevil. I am also not scared to jump on my scooter to go really high. On the other hand, I am terribly afraid of heights and if someone invited me to go bungee jumping I would never in a million years accept the invitation to do the height trust leap. These choices define my personality and the choices I make.
I was once going on a long, tall zipline. The zipline was 100 meters high. I was strapped onto the zip line seat and we were going to go 40 to 60 kilometres per hour down the zipline. While waiting I wasn’t scared, before going on I wasn’t scared and even after I finished it I wasn’t scared. Why is this? Did my love for speed overcome my fear of heights? Does safety reduce my fear? Maybe next time I go on the zipline I will find out.