Have you ever once told someone your greatest fears and, instead of coming to a mutual agreement, the other person simply laughed at you? The things that cripple us with fear – may they be spiders, phantoms, or rejection from a love interest – are often considered as absurd and irrational by others. However, that doesn’t mean everything we fear is void of rationality or reason.
Psychology isn’t exactly my forte, but I’ve come to the conclusion that no two individuals will share the same worries and woes or agree on the rationality for their own fears, because fear is an individual preference, or rather a tool, that we all use to either strengthen or cripple us.
It’s kind of a black and white way of looking at it, but I believe for each of us, there are the “destructive” and “constructive” fears. I liken this to Buddhism, which points out that there are two kinds of fears that everyone deals with: healthy and unhealthy ones.
What I consider as the destructive, unhealthy anxieties are the distortions of the mind that drive us to fear the things that can’t physically harm us but nonetheless damage us psychologically, otherwise known as a phobia. These irrational fears affect 18 percent of Americans and are the most common mental illness among women and second among men.
Some fears, however, should be taken more seriously, as some unhealthy terrors have the potential to drive us insane. However, I also believe that healthy fears are natural and point us in the direction of rationality.
I imagine a rational fear as a worry that influences us to make generally beneficial choices; a healthy fear. Abstaining from excessive drinking for fear of alcoholism or cirrhosis is an obvious healthy fear. The same can be said for the dread of facing consequences after committing a serious crime, socially or spiritually, so we choose not to commit the crime in the first place. Ultimately, these trepidations lead an individual to refrain from the unhealthy in pursuit of the healthy in any context. These are what I would consider constructive fears, because we can utilize them to achieve the goals of personal or social betterment.
It is this constructive fear that I thrive, not suffer, from as a student. The fear derived from deadlines, term papers, and narcissistic professors drives many like myself to overcome these anxiety-evoking obstacles; if graduation and excellent career training are the products of my anxiety, then I guess it is fear worthy of rationalization. Absurd to some, rational for myself; either way these are some of my preferential fears, the tools I utilize to pursue and accomplish my goals. But, even these college-related fears are only healthy if they don’t become an obsession. If that is the case, as I say, “Get over it.”
Tyler Wise is a journalism senior and Mustang Daily staff writer.