The things that scare me…and it’s not a haunted house.

Wizard of Oz Haunted Forest
Photo credit: CardCow.com

Okay, maybe I’m fudging that a little. It is Halloween after all, and I admit that things like haunted houses and haunted trails and movies like The Ring or It scare me a little (The Birds is for the birds though – that one makes me laugh). But other than ghosts and chainsaws and headless horsemen, there are bigger, uglier, much scarier things out there — things that aren’t just a mask or a sheet or a really realistic looking head gash.

Things like…

…worrying I’ll never fall in love again, or that someone will fall in love with me.

…wondering if I’ll end my days alone.

…second-guessing my friendships and relationships every which way.

…questioning what my career path is and fearing that I’m missing something every time.

Some of these scary things may be on your list, too. Or maybe you’re thinking they’re not that scary — that I’m just a scaredy-cat. But we all have our own ghosts and things that scare us. They appear in the form of nightmares, in the fear of failure, in the way we handle the stresses in our lives, in the faces of the people that know us to the core and that don’t know us at all. They are around every corner, lurking, waiting to jump out at us and make us lose our breath and put a hand to our hearts to stop the pounding. They wake us in the night, forcing the lights on and few moments of deep breaths to calm down. They creep up in conversations with our friends, lovers, family, and coworkers, and they chase us in our dreams and never-ending to-do lists.

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This is a test

Just when you think you have it all figured out, it hits you upside the head: It’s not just my boyfriend that’s worried about the future – it’s me, too. Me, who I thought was ready for the next big thing, ready to say all my fears were behind me, ready to move forward. And then, I realize, I’m scared, too.

The next few months will be challenging ones as the bf graduates from law school next week, takes the bar two months later, and continues looking for jobs and moves out here to be with me in the fall. And all this time, I’ve been focused on dates. What day are you moving here? Tell me WHEN are you here? And I’ve been worried about what happens next. We move in together, then what? What if he gets a job back in Ohio? What if he doesn’t? Is it all perfect and wonderful and that’s the end? Do we practice for a little while to make sure it’s the right thing?

I was reminded by my dad that there is no test to figure out if something is 100%. I’ll never be able to pinpoint to one action or day that makes me say, “Aha! This is all going to work out into a happy ending. All our troubles are behind us.” So with that being said, we have to learn to be okay with the 90%, or 85%, or even 99%, because that’s what life and relationships are about. NOT knowing the exact future, NOT knowing what troubles, challenges, or opportunities lie ahead – but being confident that it can be worked through, and if it doesn’t work…that that’s okay too.

I realized that I wasn’t truly testing my bf, but I’ve been testing myself. I’ve been waiting to get to that moment when I feel absolutely sure that I won’t be alone, that I won’t be disappointed, that I won’t be hurt. The truth is that we’re going to get let down, and hurt, and disappointed. But it doesn’t  mean I should set myself up for it, by preparing to the very minute details, by throwing my test of myself onto others. It’s not fair to them or me.

When we think about things that scare us about the future, it can be any number of things: financial security, job security, not knowing what job is right for you, being abandoned, having some tragic incident befall us. But there’s only so much we can do to prepare for those things. We can hope and wish and pray and save and plan and make lists, but so much of is it truly about running on faith – in yourself, and in others. And I don’t mean faith in the religious way – I mean trust and confidence, and really believing what someone is telling you and what they’re doing if they’re not giving you any reason not to. And it also means having faith that if something doesn’t go well, that there’s still a way out of that, too. You just don’t know it, so it’s scary.

For the past eight months, I’ve spent a lot of time debating what is the next step in my career, trying to figure out where I would be okay moving to, and looking for signals that things AREN’T going to work. But now, I know that I’ve been working against myself – and I’ll never get an A+ if I keep on this same road. So my goal for myself for the next few months is to look for the things that ARE working, to widen my options, and to stop trying to get to 100% – because when I do, it will be that much more worth it.