Most people are afraid of darkness at some point in their life, other people are afraid of darkness most of their life… and other people are just afraid of the light!
When we’re kids being afraid of the darkness usually just means we don’t want to turn the lights off at night. In the face of the uncertainty darkness represents, since we don’t know what we might run into when it’s dark, we start imagining the worst, making up stories in our minds about monsters or ghosts. Then, eventually, some day, as we grow older, we start realizing our fear is just a product of our imagination, and reality is the worst we might run into in the dark is a piece of furniture, which to be fair can be rather painful when we run into it with our pinky toe or our knee at just the right angle, yikes!
Regardless, once we’ve grown out of our fear of literal darkness, this fear doesn’t just disappear, it evolves. We might not need the comfort of keeping the lights on at night anymore, but we’re still terrified of uncertainty, in fact, as adults, we are more afraid of it than ever. And, just like when we were kids, in the face of uncertainty, we start imagining the worst, making up stories in our minds about monsters or ghosts. Except, this time, such monsters and ghosts have names like “failure”, “loneliness”, “bankruptcy”, “heartbreak”, and any other scary thought that comes to mind. Keeping the lights on might not be enough comfort against this type of fear, but we do start creating a comfort zone of our own to avoid having to face such evil monsters. However, because these monsters seem more real than the three-eyed hairy ones we imagined as kids, it seems harder to become aware of the fact that even if such things as failure, loneliness, bankruptcy and heartbreak do exist, the fear of them is still an irrational product of our imagination.
Ironically, when we failed to gain this awareness, the comfort zone we’ve created to protect us from the pain and heartache of facing those kinds of monsters ends up becoming the darkest place of all. Full of frustration, despair and disappointment, even jealousy when we look outside and see people all over the place basking in the bright light. Yet, our fear still keeps us confined in those dark comfort zones, and soon enough we’ve developed the strangest fear of all: fear of the light!! I know, that sounds totally crazy and irrational, but then again that’s usually fear’s very own nature. Even when we see the light (the light of success, love, freedom) and others rejoicing in it, we are still afraid of what it might take to get there, we are afraid the light won’t shine on us once we’re out there. So, we don’t even try, we choose to remain agonizingly comfortable in the darkness of our current circumstances, no matter how miserable they make us sometimes.
Even though you might agree that fear of the light is totally crazy and irrational, you could still argue that no one is really afraid of the light, that they are just stuck being afraid of the monsters (failure, loneliness, bankruptcy, heartbreak), and that such fear is not so irrational because those really do exist. In fact, you might even argue you have encountered them before and it was devastating. But here’s the thing, of course they exist, and there’s good chance you’ll encounter them eventually or yet again, the irrational part coming straight out of your imagination is to think that if you do, it’d be apocalyptic. The reality is the worst that can happen when you run into any of those unfortunate events is that it’ll be painful; sure, more painful that running into furniture in the dark, but still. No matter how painful, devastating even, with a little will to live, you’ll survive and eventually move on. Unless, you develop fear of the light, and remain stuck in a mental dark prison of your own doing, but with a little awareness you can overcome even that; you can free yourself by reminding yourself that your fear is crazy and irrational, no in the sense that it will never happen or materialize, but in the sense that even if it does, you’ll get thru it and be fine. Heck, you might be more than fine, you might even be better from the experience of it. Now, imagine that!
P.S. Since I was just recently discussing the topic of asking the right questions, especially when it comes to asking yourself, here’s a good one to ask when dealing with fear: what’s the worst that could happen? More often than not, you’ll find the answer is not as bad as your fear makes you think it is, and that alone sometimes is enough to snap you out it!
Okay okay, maybe more silly than scary, but that's how it usually goes with our fears: more silly than scary!