I am nearly finished with “Americanah” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and she is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors and speakers. She speaks about women, feminism, immigration, racism, living abroad, and adapting to life in a foreign place and returning to your homeland. This fictitious novel has kept me entranced as I follow the stories of Ifemelu and Obinze, a Nigerian couple who move through adolescence and adulthood both with and without each other, in different countries and in different life experiences, and yet both end up back in Nigeria. There are so many things I could talk about with this novel, and I want to write an entire post about the themes and ideas that have influenced my thoughts and even dreams after reading this book. However, the biggest inspiration I derived is to make this blog a priority. Ifemelu writes blogs in the book, and it is her passion and her job. I am a writer – through and through. When I describe myself to others, I often include this as well as mother, daughter, wife, friend, avid reader, lover of coffee….but can I include writer if I am not committed to this? Even if no one reads this, it IS important for ME.
Ifemelu has certain posts for days of the week, such as Mish-Mash day. This gave me an idea and a way to keep me on track with constant writing. Why not theme some posts on different days? I decided that Fridays will be F-Word Fridays. Today’s word is…..Fear.
Fear is a basic and vital emotional response, albeit unpleasant. It is to be afraid of something, someone, or some place that is dangerous, unknown, or a potential threat. Most people associate fear with a specific phobia, trauma, or event. For example, one can have a fear of heights because there is the chance of falling, or someone may have a fear of scary movies. I myself have a fear of death because death is an unknown state of being or nonbeing. No one can explain what death is because when one is dead, he or she is dead. Others have a fear based on past experiences – assault victims fear similar situations, veterans are hyperaware and fearful in similar scenarios, people who survive near-death experiences have trauma or fear, etc. No matter the fear, I like to remind myself that fear is not only natural but normal. Fear is the body’s way of warning off dangerous acts, instilling vigilance, and peaking adrenaline in tense and hostile situations.
Fear is in the air in the media, society, and around us. Right now, there is a fear of military action and/or retaliation for bombings, potential strikes, and other actions in various nations. I get to personally worry since my spouse is in the military and close to tensions at the moment. I try not to stress and highly encourage family to follow this, but there is always the underlying fear of the unknown and of how the decisions of a few (and often idiotic, if I’m honest) will affect not only the world but my own little family.
There is the fear of the direction of the nation. Let’s be real for a minute: I do not care if you are Republican, Democrat, Independent, black, white, brown, gay, transgender, questioning, or just downright confused about your whole life and identity. Everyone has a voice and a stake in the future of the nation. No matter if you love or hate this current administration, it is the current administration. My fear, which I believe is shared by many, is that the current administration is unpredictable, sporadic, and prone to influence. Yes, this can be said about many politicians and governments. What is striking FEAR in my being is that I wake up everyday and do not know what will be happening that day. I live in Hawaii, so by the time I wake up, half of the decisions and plans have already been made in D.C. and I play the game of catch-up. How do we say that we care about Syrians being chemically gassed enough to bomb their aircraft but not enough to take in their refugees? We want to “Make America Great Again” but not the world, as the EPA and environmental regulations are limited and repealed. How do we promote pro-life policies but limit social programs that benefit those that are living? One minute, we have a policy on a nation; the next minute, all is thrown out the window and we need to show our might. It is not the actual ideas that are being proposed that frighten me, but it is the force, the unpredictability, and instability that I see that is causing fear. FEAR – the unknown.
I have a fear in the future. Have I mentioned that I have anxiety? I like to know how things are going to happen, to plan things as much as possible, and to control what I can. The biggest thing I have learned as a military wife and mother is that so many, many things are not in my control. I cannot tell you what our future will look like – hell, I could not even tell you where I will be living in 4 years. My spouse is on the shorter end of his enlistment, and he could not be more thrilled. He has been dedicated to his job and the Air Force for nearly 15 years, and I could not be more proud of him. For me, I am fearful. The military life and stability/instability is all we have known. What do we do when that is gone? I have plenty of education, but the constant moving has not allowed me to build a sufficient career. Will we be financially stable in military retirement? Where will we live? What will we do? Can we afford all the things we dreamed of, i.e. college for the kids, our dream home, trips abroad, a comfortable life? FEAR and anxiety for me. We have more time, and plenty of things could happen before the husband’s retirement. It is always there though, that fear of the unknown.
As I said, fear is a normal, human instinct. It can even benefit us in dangerous situations. What are your fears? Do you try to conquer your fears or embrace them for their benefit? I would love to hear your thoughts on this.