Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Overcoming Fears, or, Smashing into an Orange Construction Barrel

I have always had a paralyzing fear of those annoying orange barrels on the freeway. They are large, solid, and often placed very haphazardly. 

While I have always had an issue with anything that "confines" me in any way (small spaces, tunnels, bridges, etc.), these barrels have scared the living daylights out of me ever since I was a junior in high school. I was a passenger in someone's car (let's call her Sally) and while we drove through those damn orange barrels on the way to MSU for yearbook camp (shut up, Jeremy) she told me a horrific story about her dad hitting one and it flying in through the windshield. Not that I am trying to blame others for my phobias, but that image has stayed with me ever since.

Unfortunately, my title is not a clever metaphor. While driving home from work today, an orange barrel hit the passenger side of my car. (The details are not important. I mean, can one ever REALLY determine WHO is at fault in situations like these? I think not.) It smashed off my side mirror, skimmed the door, and stopped my heart. My alignment was probably a little off already, but after that I wobbled all the way home.

Despite all the badness, the greatest thing happened after that: I sailed past all the rest of those barrels -- even the ones that were randomly placed in the exact CENTER of the lane -- without any anxiety whatsoever. As corny as it sounds, I Faced My Fear. And I won. I stared it down and said You can't hurt me, you stupid barrel, and you will NOT smash through my windshield and destroy my lovely face.  Got it?

However, there is NO WAY that I am going to stare down my fears of falling from great heights, driving off bridges, snakes, spiders, or centipedes any time soon.  Baby steps, people.

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