Doing Scary Things

I’m afraid of heights. Not that kind of afraid that means you get a bit queasy if you're standing on the glass-bottomed Grand Canyon Overlook, but really and truly terrified of heights. I hate them with a passion. Airplane rides find me white-knuckled in my seat, flinching with every hint of turbulence. I can’t ride roller coasters because of the combination of height and speed . Even tall buildings get to me, to the point where anything higher than ten stories sees me shying away from windows and standing firmly in the middle of rooms.

And yet, ever time I need to travel somewhere I can’t simply take the train or drive to, I invariably fly. Regardless of how much I’ll hate the whole ordeal, regardless of how uncomfortable I’ll be, flying is my default travel option. After all, it’s he best way to travel there is, the fastest method by far. That’s worth being forced to confront my fears for a bit. If the need is great enough, I always overcome my own fear of heights to make my commute home from college more convenient.

I’ve found, though, that some fears are much harder to override this way. Conquering my fear of heights to fly a plane back home to Miami? Easy. Conquering social anxiety enough to go out to a party? Not so easy. Despite the fact that one is, realistically, less dangerous than the other, it’s the less dangerous one that I have a harder time making myself do. This is almost certainly a consequence of the things I think are valuable. Making it back to Miami in time? Definitely something I need to do even if I HATE flying. Hanging out with others? That’s something I have a hard time convincing myself is necessary.

But at the end of the day, thinking this is just letting the fear win. I have no doubt that I convince myself social interaction isn’t necessary because I’m so uncomfortable with it, which in turn leads me to avoid it, and in turn keeps me just as uncomfortable with social interaction that, logically, is actually incredibly important for me to have. The only way for me to triumph over the fear I most need to triumph over is to do the very thing that scares me the most, and ignore my own fear telling me something isn’t important. This is something we all need to do, I think: recognize that even in trying to judge rationally what’s worth pursuing, we’re often ruled by our emotions. Because if we don’t, we miss out on the things most worth having.