It would be too simple to say that I’m scared of the dark, but let’s go for it.
Ever since I can remember, I’ve spent hours in bed awake at night, fearing that someone would break into my home while my eyes were still open. This fear has followed me into many spaces, including my apartment when I’m home alone and my childhood home that had multiple stories. I know these fears are not irrational – they feel quite silly to admit – but my fear has started to get in the way of how I want to live my life. (I make eight hours of sleep a priority, and I can’t achieve that when I’m tossing and turning, worrying about how much I’ll be worrying when I’m camping or sleeping in strange hostel beds in stranger countries.)
On one of my more recent adventures, fear latched onto my heart, brain, and body, while I was camping in Mississippi. Just picture this. You’ve set up camp around 10 P.M. without seeing a soul as you drive into the campsite. There’s a lit bathroom across the path, and an RV displaying hanging lights in the distance, but the rest of your vision is unpopulated. There’s no cell phone service, either. I don’t think it’s outlandish to say that I had shaking fears for hours of getting murdered.
Again, I know that my fears, to a point, are rational. I don’t assume that my fears are unique or speak to anxiety that particularly needs attention. As I picture my death and obituary, or picture being face-to-face with someone who wants to break into my home and cause me harm, I constantly tell myself that I’m thinking irrationally. I don’t do anything irrational due to my fears. (I’ve dragged my boyfriend to sleep in his car, rather than a tent, only once.) I’m writing about fear because I think it presents an interesting opportunity to have gratitude.
I really should be grateful for my health, the sunrise, and all that I have been given, every single day, without a reminder. We all should…but that’s not always how we see things. Gratitude can be tricky: it usually takes a misfortune for anyone to pay attention to the positive things we’ve been given. Often, we are grateful only after we’ve compared our lives or situations to others…something that is otherwise an ineffective and dangerous thing to do.
While I work on taming these fears to the point where I’m only momentarily scared of an axe murderer in an otherwise peaceful and beautiful campsite, I’ve added a new mantra when I get especially nervous or afraid.
“Tomorrow’s sunrise will be so beautiful.”
I thought of this mantra once afternoon when I had quite the headache after trying a headstand and could not stop thinking about internal bleeding in my brain (bear with me here.) I can’t use a mantra that will outright tell my brain that my fears are wrong; it’s not going to be effective. So I’ve decided to slide in a positive message between every few thoughts. This message is not only positive, but it travels into the next day. The mantra sets me up for a morning of gratitude. Gratitude, as I’ve learned recently, is an absolutely refreshing way to start off the day.
I woke up in Mississippi to a sunrise over a lake near our campsite that was new to us in the daylight. My sun salutations were charged with gratitude. Rather than rolling my eyes at worrying over absolutely nothing, I was able to start my morning off on a positive, humble, thankful note.
As I mentioned earlier, I’m still working on taming my fears. After all, my future plans involve traveling across the world alone (again) and eventually making a bus or a campervan my home. So let’s figure this out together. What are your mantras when you’re scared? How do you handle anxiety in the dark? Let me know in the comments!!
Thank you for reading. Namaste!