I am afraid of so many things.
I am afraid of nuclear war, I am afraid of being no one. I am afraid of losing my home, I am afraid of dying alone. I am afraid of letting you down. I am afraid of letting you go. I am afraid.
I am afraid of immense pain. I am afraid of going insane. I am afraid of losing a game. I am afraid of the wrong person knowing my name. I am afraid to just lie here. I am afraid I’m a liar. I am afraid to close my eyes at night.
I finished writing a book recently. In doing so I learned a lesson that I wanted to share with you. I had to not only face my own fears but live with them and work with them. I did not want to write something that was entirely all my own, so I asked as many people as I could fit into a single book one question. A question I ask people every now and again in conversation. A question that really formulates a connection between people who have nothing in common.
“What are you afraid of?”
I have the ability to find myself within almost any person’s fear. That is what made this challenge so difficult. When I ask this question, I am met with heavy conversations, and not all of them have a solution, but they don’t need to.
I decided to try and bring forward an aspect of light to these fears by channeling them into comics. I wanted to do what I try to do in my own life and show people that their fears can’t control them, at least not entirely, if we work to understand them.
The first comics I drew were easier—people said they were afraid of aliens, bugs, meteors. After that, someone told me they were afraid of the dark. That one terrifies me too. So I put myself in the situation: I run away from the dark if I am afraid. So I wrote a comic called, “I’ll come back later,” Showing a ghost turning away from a dark room as if the room would change in a few hours.
We like to pretend our problems go away if we do not approach them. It becomes easier when I look at a situation from the outside in.
Soon things grew even more challenging.
Somebody messaged and told me they were afraid of getting Alzheimer’s and forgetting their loved ones. As someone who has the disease running in their family, this one was difficult to even read. I wanted to move on and not face it. I wanted to turn away from that dark room. This is when the book changed a little bit because I realized it was becoming important, it was embodying something that I try to live with every day.
If I am absolutely afraid to write about something or to think about something then that means it is the exact thing I should be writing about. If I am afraid to face a thought surely someone else is too. So I decided the best way to combat this fear was with love, and I wrote a comic about someone with Alzheimer’s remembering that the person still loves them.
Face a fear, realize a truth.
Whether you are worried about being lost and scared, being bit by a bug, being separated from a loved one, dying from a giant subterranean monster or having your head fall off because you cracked your neck too hard, there is a lesson I learned from writing this book that I want to share with you: Facing your fear does not mean accepting your fear, moving on, and getting over it. Facing your fear means realizing the truth behind it. I am not afraid of the dark, I am afraid of the unknown. I am not afraid of my head falling off, I am afraid of the unknown that comes after. The unknown is what creates anxiety. The unknown is the definition of fear. Trying to get acquainted with your fear and the unknown that lies beneath it is what will help you understand, maybe what will even give you the courage to walk into that dark room.
So, what are you afraid of?
A portion of the proceeds from Hold This When You’re Scared by April Hill Writing will go to helping To Write Love on Her Arms continue their mission of presenting hope and connecting those struggling to the help they need and deserve. You can also follow the author on Instagram here or check out their website for more writing and doodles!