"The Fear of Ourselves"

Feb 15, 2011

Luke Buscher - Southeast High School
Credit Randy Eccles / WUIS/Illinois Issues

I believe that fear hinders our ability to be completely open and honest with one another. It drives us mad, forcing us to contain ourselves, to hold back. The fear of judgment and embarrassment silences our expressions, even when what we most want is for someone to understand us on the most fundamental level.

I was sitting in my room, on my bed, when I realized all this. The thought was heavy, and it hung around my head like fog. It was night. Looking out my window, the stark, bitter cold was evident. Wisps of snow scurried about the ground, and higher up, the wind furiously whipped through the trees. If you were to look down the street, you would see a few dim street lights illuminating just enough to make out their silhouette. To be fair, this weather made every house look lonely, but I felt especially separated as I gazed out, my thoughts swirling about like the thin layer of snow on the boulevard. I contacted a friend of mine, and told her I had an epiphany. I described these thoughts and emotions. And although she and I regard each other as complete opposites, her mind paralleled mine as we tried to fathom these profound concepts. She admitted that she too sometimes felt this lack of connectedness, and that even her best childhood friend didn’t really know her. Hearing this actually comforted me. I realized that I am not alone in experiencing such moments. Everyone has them. I was then led to wonder why it’s so difficult to be completely comfortable with one’s own identity. Why is it so hard to accept and even express our true forms to those around us?

True strength, whether it be of the mind, body, or spirit comes from accepting our shortcomings and allowing others to clearly see them.

I believe that society deters our complete acceptance of our own character and instead promotes our fretting over mistakes and feelings of inadequacy. “The survival of the fittest” within our culture weeds out any of us who show weakness or are perceived to be incompetent. We realize this, and because of it, we feel the need to act strong, and to boast our adeptness. We hide our failures within ourselves and pray that no one discovers them. But these perceived strengths that society cultivates are just that, perceived. They are as shallow and as false as the people who have earned them. True strength, whether it be of the mind, body, or spirit comes from accepting our shortcomings and allowing others to clearly see them. For when there are no longer any hidden secrets our fear might be uncovered, the burden we carry is gone, and we become able to reach new heights.

Every day I try to accept my defects, and even admit them to others. There are moments when I refuse to be myself, and instead want to be perceived as something else. But I know this longing to be revealed at my core. It’s in all of us. We have this desire because somewhere within us, there is something that we don’t like. Mistrust in one’s self quietly lies there, and yet it reminds us of our faults, shortcomings, and failures. I know my weaknesses. You know yours.