|Riley's driver is Joy|
|Riley's parents' emotions|
But what does it mean to have fear as my driver? Nothing makes me feel more like a child than fear. When I had lived in the Netherlands nine months, I melted down sobbing because I was afraid that (not kidding) no one would come to my birthday party. People did come, and I had a wonderful birthday that year, but looking back I am amazed at quite how scary the thought of "I have no friends" could be, even as an adult. A lot of the experiences that helped me mature into an adult were doing things that frightened me or seemed challenging in some way, and then excelling in those challenges. Now that I am an adult, life is scary in different ways. The next step isn't usually clear. My support system doesn't necessarily have experience in my situation, and so it's hard for me to parse through the various advice I'm getting. Instead of people around me telling me to go ahead and take the challenging opportunity, there is so much cautious advice. When I was younger I felt like everyone was telling me to reach for the stars, and now there's a lot more "that sounds like a lot of work, be careful—don't get too involved, are you able to pay for that? How will that work with having kids?" Not exactly advice to combat fear.
In her book, Bossypants, Tina Fey tells some of the hurdles in her own life in hilarious and compelling detail. Near the end of the book she compares her own paralyzing anxiety about her work and the possibility of having a second child to two small Greek children her mother once babysat. These children had never been out of their parents' care in their entire lives, and were desperate, crying inconsolably. After hours of this, the seven year old Christo cries out in Greek to his little sister, "Oh! My Maria! What is to become of us?" which send's Tina's mother running out of the room in a fit of laughter. Those children are going to be fine. Tina Fey's gynecologist tells her simply, "Either way, everything will be fine." It took hearing those words for her to see that (to anyone with a real problem) she must look like the terrified Greek children; nothing to worry about, but worried out of her mind. Either way, everything will be fine. "But, but, but, what if it's not?" I still want to ask. "What if something terrible happens? What if the thing you desperately want isn't the thing you get? What if you work, and work, and work, and nothing comes of it? What is the people you trust and the things you depend on turn out to be not as dependable as you thought?"
|Children's book edition of Maya Angelou's poem|
Life Doesn't Frighten Me by Maya Angelou (excerpt)
Don’t show me frogs and snakes
And listen for my scream,
If I’m afraid at all
It’s only in my dreams.
I’ve got a magic charm
That I keep up my sleeve
I can walk the ocean floor
And never have to breathe.
Life doesn’t frighten me at all
Not at all
Not at all.
Life doesn’t frighten me at all.