Facing our fears, there’s courage in awareness

By Sarah Stubbs


Lately I have seen the same Halloween meme pop up on all of my social media feeds. The meme comically reads, “Instead of yelling ‘BOO,’ let’s yell something scarier this Halloween; like ‘COMMITMENT’ or ‘STUDENT LOANS.’”

While this is quite hilarious, there is a lot of truth to it. As we get older, we grow out of certain fears and begin to acquire new ones. And we can’t help but think about our fears – silly or serious – on the holiday that is all about the scary stuff.

As college students, we are most likely not scared of the things we were when we were younger. We’re not afraid of monsters living in our closets or under our beds, and we are well aware of the facts that scary movies aren’t real and neither are the haunted houses or corn mazes we pay to go to with our friends during the fall months.

What is real, though, is the fact that we are never too old to be fearful. Whether you’re afraid of commitment, rejection, spiders, real-life after graduation, dying alone, never being good enough, public speaking, checking your grades on Blackboard, or death, you’re most likely afraid of something and you are most likely not alone in that fear.

Everyone is afraid of something and the most common fear I see among my peers (besides the dark, clowns, spiders, or other silly fears we often think of first) is the fear of being inadequate. My generation has major confidence issues and I think it’s largely because of the amount of pressure we feel to be the best at everything – the best student, the best athlete, the best friend – and the fact that our lives are broadcasted everyday on social media to be judged by our friends, family, and acquaintances.

I know that most of my columns end up being largely about how our best is always enough and we should all stop feeling inadequate and stressed out all of the time. I know that these requests or demands all might start to sound cliché or like I’m beating a dead horse. Sometimes I just imagine my readers saying, “We get it, Sarah, you think we should all chill out and be happy. But it’s not all that simple, ya know?” And I know. It’s not.

If anyone’s feeling the pressure to be perfect and the looming fear of inadequacy, it’s me. But, I’m honestly not as afraid as I used to be simply because I know that I am not alone. It’s generational for sure and has a lot to do with the modern college experience. Everyone is expected to successfully juggle school, work, family, and fun all while staying happy and healthy. This is an unrealistic expectation, but we keep it nonetheless.

We all are nervous about what the future holds – even the folks who seem to have it all together. There are so many variables and rarely ever do our days go as planned. We are never as productive or focused as we could possibly be and we are never as prepared as we could possibly be for that class discussion or exam.

If Halloween is all about pretending to be someone we aren’t and getting scared straight, we might as well look at it as an opportunity to think about our real fears, too, and how we might overcome them or at least put them into perspective with the rest of our life.

Our happiness and mental health depend on it.

We will never overcome our fears if we don’t acknowledge them. Just like anything else, awareness is the first step. Once we are aware, we can analyze our fears, make a plan-of-action, and ultimately gain the inevitable confidence that courageously facing our fears creates.

And again, trust me guys, it’s all going to be OK.

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