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Erin Spatz: We fear the unknown

  • Tuesday, August 6, 2013

  • Updated Monday, September 23, 2013 11:31 am

Oh Autumn! How I love her. She can flat-out drive me bonkers, but I do love her.
She is a walking contradiction. She is brave, but terrified. She will keep trying even while red-faced and frustrated.
A couple of summers ago, we went to the water park as a family. Autumn wanted to keep up with her older brother and insisted on going down the big slides.
If you have ever seen those slides, there are at least 1,000 steps to get to the top. Eric agreed to go with them. Autumn cried the whole way up. With every step she was crying. She was afraid of what would happen at the top and how she would get down. The unknown was getting to her.
Doesn't the unknown scare everyone?
Once at the top, in spite of crying she went down the slide. She loved it.  She asked to go again. Eric, being amazing, took her again. And, can you guess what she did every step of the way? Cried. She knew how long the walk up was and what the slide was like, yet she was afraid.
When she was five she wanted to take twirling, and learn how to twirl a baton. So, I signed her up. She cried the morning of her first class and was worried that she would drop the baton. She was worried that it would land on her head. She did drop the baton, a lot, but she kept going. She got better because she did it even though she was afraid.
I thought we were only supposed to be afraid of the unknown?
This summer she has been working so hard on her surfing skills. But, she is afraid. Afraid of sharks and jellyfish stings. On a side note, she recently threw a fit because I wouldn't let her watch Jaws (one of my better choices.)  She has gotten knocked off the board, and has had sand burn on her stomach. She often cries as she paddles out because she doesn't know how things will go, But she has yet to give up.
Autumn's surfing has improved in a major way. Her brothers surf, but they are not afraid. But they also aren't trying as hard. They want the waves to be easy to get and the ride to be perfect. They are good too, but there is something different in her commitment.
Sometimes, being afraid and crying in the face of our fear strengthens our resolve. Her need to tackle the water slide or master surfing in spite of all that she is afraid of, makes each victory greater.
Often, we fear the unknown and don't take the leap, wave or slide because we don't know how things will end. And other times we know that the slide is fun and the wave is perfect but we are afraid to fail.


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