I don’t like to brag, but sometimes you just have to stop and celebrate successes. I’ve conquered my fear of tablecloth origami.
That’s right. We’ve concluded the Alpha program at our church and I’ve managed to fold and hang the ten tablecloths we’ve been using for our weekly dinners since January. You may remember that I’ve been taking them home to launder each week, but I’ve steered well clear of attempting the intricate process by which the tablecloths are supposed to be folded and hung in the linen cabinet because I was paralyzed by fear. The other day, I took a deep breathe and faced my fear. Now, seven round and three rectangular tablecloths are hanging, relatively neatly, in the parish center linen closet. I may not have done the task perfectly, but the end product is a reasonable facsimile of what it is supposed to be. I call that a victory. I’ve vanquished my tablecloth demons!
I do think it is important to not let our fears cripple us. On the other hand, nobody has to run around doing everything just to prove a point.
I’ve never been what you would call a thrillseeker. I’m not going to lie. I am afraid of stuff. I have avoided doing some things because I was afraid. I believe most of my fears are rational. I admit that some are not. The thing is- I really don’t have that much FOMO. I’ve never felt the need to do things like skydive or wrestle crocodiles or stick my hand in a badger’s den just for the sake of it. I understand that some people like the adrenaline rush they get from doing such things, but I just never saw the point. I think my body makes quite enough adrenaline on its own without me priming the pump.
I don’t really think there is any need to do stuff just to do it. I never got that whole concept of “climbing the mountain because it is there.” I think opting out of doing something is a perfectly reasonable decision. I remember a conversation I had once with my mother about six months after my father died. She called me and, in a strained and sob-sodden voice, told me that she was going to a play with a friend of hers. I knew immediately from her voice that the play was Guys and Dolls. My parents attended a performance of this musical on their first date. When I asked her about it, she confirmed my suspicion and started crying in earnest. I asked, since it was obviously upsetting her so much, why she was going. She haltingly said, “I have to go sometime.” I pointed out that, in fact, she did not have to go. It was my humble opinion that she could easily go the rest of her life without ever seeing Guys and Dolls again.
During our conversation, my mother started to realize that she actually wanted to go see the play. She wanted to have a fun night out with her friend and she wanted to feel normal. On some level, she believed that she was missing out on a certain joy in her life because she was afraid to do something that might increase her grief. For her, I don’t think it was so much the play itself that she was afraid of missing. She was afraid that her life would be consumed by grief if she allowed herself to hide from doing normal things that she would have done without hesitation if my father was still alive. Her FOMO over what she might miss in her life because she was afraid of her grief was much bigger and scarier than her fear of facing her grief. She saw value in facing a risk. Unlike the hand-in-a-badger-den thing, she saw a chance of reward.
So, I guess facing fears is a good thing. I’m not sure my life is any better because I have slayed the tablecloth dragons. I’m not sure I’ll ever decide to fold tablecloths again. I may opt out of tablecloth folding. But I’ll decide not to do it on my own terms. I’ll decide not to do it based on my own desire and inclination, not based on fear.
P.S. After my foray into the world of tablecloth origami, another lady suggested in the nicest possible way that I was doing it all wrong and taught me another way to fold the tablecloths. It seems I was correct in thinking my natural talents do not lie in this direction. Still, I did my best and did not allow my fear to prevent me from trying something new. That’s what is important, right? Anybody? Help me out here!
What fears have you faced and what was the benefit? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a fear-free day!