The antidote to fear

#essays #fear #health

I cried when I read the lab results from my latest annual exam. Not because the results were bad. Quite the opposite—I'm a healthy adult male with imperfect cholesterol. But I'm not alarmed; I'm simply aware.

I smiled as I re-read the results and then I thought back to my first visit with that same doctor four years earlier. I had cried when my doctor asked if my parents were still alive and I had to tell her no—they've been dead for a while now. Cancer got them. I would later break down when I got to my car and then somehow fake my way through the rest of the workday.

Then I thought back to a moment before that doctor's visit, when I told my counselor I was afraid to get a checkup.

“What if you go to the doctor and everything is fine?” my counselor asked.

“I'll just think the cancer hasn't come yet,” I told her.

For a while, that was my fear, and that fear kept me away from the doctor for years. But that fear was nowhere to be found as I leaned against my car, in front of my mailbox, and shuffled through the paperwork from my latest visit.

To say I no longer worry about cancer would be dishonest. Cancer has taken more family than just my parents. But I do have certain factors in my favor. For one, I don't smoke. I don't work around the smog of heavy machinery. I'm prioritizing exercise. And I now get regular annual exams. I do have some things I need to improve on—like my diet, as my doctor reminded me.

Still, that old fear may come to be true. But it's not true now, so I should live my best cancer-free life while I can.

For too long, I let fear paralyze me. Fear led to inaction. But action has proven the best antidote to fear. Our fears are often worse than reality. This is a lesson I'm constantly relearning.

How else am I letting fear get in the way? Where else can I take one small step to shut down that unhelpful part of my brain?

Enough about me.

What about you?