Growing Up

Why Are New Things so Terrifying?

I used to think I was someone who tried new things. I am generally curious about the world, and I like to believe that I have an open mind. However, I am afraid.

Fear tends to whisper in my ear that new things are Scary Dangerous Things To Be Avoided (TM). That fear keeps me from trying new things. It’s something I believe many people deal with on a daily basis, but it’s a shame that we live such a way.

Photo by Mark Atwood / Flickr
Photo by: Mark Atwood  from Flickr (Creative Commons)

For instance, my youngest niece loves to do cartwheels, round offs, and somersaults. Now, she’s teaching herself to do handstands and walk on her hands. I used to do some of those things too, though handstands and walking on my hands were at a skill level that I never possessed. She asked me to do a somersault, and I refused.

Things I did as a child are suddenly scary. Why is that?

I vaguely remember a time when I accidentally completed a backflip somehow in my backyard by the pool. I was just fooling around, and I remember that it hurt and I didn’t like it.

Perhaps that’s why I stopped doing somersaults. I mean, they did hurt my head quite a bit. I have no problem doing these sorts of tricks in the pool; in fact, I love doing that.

On the flip side, there’s also my battle with trying new foods. I was a notoriously picky eater as a child. If it wasn’t a hamburger or spaghetti, odds were I didn’t want it. Ok, so there were some other foods I enjoyed as well, but those were my staple meals.

At some point, I enjoyed Mexican until a trip to Taco Bell made me understand why so many people call it Taco Hell. When my parents made Mexican meals, I had to leave the kitchen (and sometimes the house) to avoid throwing up at the mere smell.

A couple days ago, I mentioned this fact to my brother when he was asking me about my food preferences. He then got up from the table, went to the spice cabinet, opened a jar, and had me smell it.

Terrible memories of nasty smelling food and barfing came to mind immediately. Apparently, it’s cumin’s fault.

He decided to cook dinner that night for my mother and me, but he promised to go light on the cumin. A few years ago, I wouldn’t have dared tried any of the dishes, but I am not as picky as I was before going to college. So I tentatively made myself a plate and gave it a try.

Photo by: jypsygen from Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by: jypsygen from Flickr (Creative Commons)

Turns out, I still hate the taste of cumin, so the meat was terrible; however, covering it in cheese made it edible. My brother apparently felt that I was eating it only because it would provide nourishment and likely not kill me in the process.

My family have all mentioned that watching me eat is quite entertaining because of the faces I make. Poker face is not my strong point, I guess.

In the end though, I tried something new. Well, something old really. I used to eat botana all the time. Next time, I’ll take my meat unseasoned. Or maybe I’ll put it to better use and make sloppy joes.

The point is I used to do these things until a negative experience ruined them. I guess I’m now trying to overcome those negative experiences and regain some positive ones. Is that why we stop doing things we did as children? We fear getting hurt or we’ve already been hurt, so we avoid those experiences. It makes sense. We try to protect ourselves from pain.

And then at some point we learn to be afraid of things we’ve never tried because we might get hurt. Or is that just my excuse? Is there a way to avoid learning that?

I can’t help but wonder if my niece will be doing cartwheels and handstands when she’s my age. Or will she fall one day and decide enough is enough. When she broke her leg because she fell off her bike, it didn’t stop her from getting back on. Sure, she was nervous at first, but she found her confidence again.

But how do you find that confidence when you’re trying something completely new? How do you ignore that inner fear and embrace the confidence? I suppose we hold onto the good experiences we’ve already figured out along the way and use those to boost up the bravery and give it a try.

Or we remain scared and always wonder if we would’ve liked that experience fear made us pass by.

What about you?

Are you afraid of new experiences? Do you let negative experiences or pain prevent you from doing things you enjoyed as a kid?

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4 thoughts on “Why Are New Things so Terrifying?

  1. Hey, there. Fear has kept me from so many things in my life I truly can’t even really contemplate it. I feel like I could have been so much more in my life if I just would have found the courage to let go. Now I have an 8 year old that I am determined to make sure doesn’t end up like me. My blog is my own exercise in getting over my fear. This was a good post.

    1. Thank you. Fear has stopped me from doing many things too, even applying for a writing position that could have advanced my writing career! I love to write, but I’m terrified of doing it professionally (but I want to publish…). Figure that one out.

      Here’s to overcoming our fears!

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