The lady who was teaching a craft to my class today asked the kids what they feared. All the good sociology tells us to help the kids “face their fears” and “talk about their emotions”. So we smiled benevolently at them and waited for them to answer. The first four kids shared the things that scared them: roller coasters, monsters, ghosts and the dark. When we got to the fifth one, a very dainty little girl who only wears dresses, she didn’t hesitate a second before answering “nothing”. It stopped the whole discussion. I wondered if I should coax a more realistic answer out of her. Then I saw her face.
Getting to know her these last few months has helped me see that there is a spine of titanium steel beneath those lacy dresses. She meant exactly what she’d said. Her look dared us to challenge her. Of course, the two boys after her said the same thing, that they weren’t afraid of anything either.
I’ve thought about the simple way she stated it all day. I was reminded about all the times I’ve heard that we give power to the things we acknowledge. Most of the time this is phrased in a good way: we build up our confidence when we acknowledge our success, etc. Perhaps it works in the reverse as well, and we give fear more than its due when we acknowledge its presence. Maybe denying its existence could take a bit of its sting away from it. Just a thought.