Happy Day of Dread!

In honor of Mischief Night and Halloween, let’s take a moment to talk about my favorite subject… FEAR!

Fear comes in all shapes and sizes. In sports, some athletes may fear striking out, getting beaned in the head by a baseball, letting in a goal, missing an easy putt, being cut from a high school team, falling short of athletic goals, suffering embarrassment, letting down parents or having a coach flip their lid for a bonehead mistake (his words, not mine).

Good old fashioned fear also occurs in your personal life, such as; failing a test, missing out on a job opportunity, being dumped by the person of your dreams, getting seriously sick, crashing your car in the snow, etc.

If I am going to be honest with you, I have a shitload of fears. My short list of fears include: letting my kids down, feeling I won’t measure up to other people’s expectations, writing a blog post and no one reading it (thank God you are reading this and dispelling that fear), being attacked by bats and crossing paths with an armadillo (don’t ask).

So, if you have some fears… CONGRATULATIONS! Join the club; it’s called Being Human or The Fraidy Bunch. On second thought, let’s stick with Being Human.

In truth, not all fears are bad. Some of our fears keep us safe. A gymnast, who fears falling off the balance beam, may practice more to feel more secure during routines. Fear can help us be more cautious when crossing a busy road. Fear of failing an upcoming test may be the impetus to ask a teacher for extra help understanding a concept.

On the flip side, many of our fears hold us back. Those fears prevent us from becoming who we are truly meant to be and what we can give to the world. Fear of making a mistake can cause some athletes to play it safe and fall short of their athletic goals. Fear of being turned down for a job could prevent a person from even applying for the position. Fear of being judged can hold back a person from starting an exercise program or joining a gym.

Fear is the general theme of the beloved holiday for many children… Halloween! Since this post was written on Halloween or “Fright Night,” let’s examine fear through the eyes of those little trick-or-treaters who invade the night.

Most kids love Halloween and so do many adults. Kids drag their parents to the store in hopes of finding that amazing $50 costume. (Yes, people, $50 for some of those costumes you only get to wear one time!) Some adults go all out too, decorating their houses and even dressing up to scare the bejesus out of unsuspecting kids.

And so the night begins… Enthusiastic children quickly put on their costumes, grab their pillowcase and shuffle out the door into the windy, dark night in order to accumulate as much teeth-rotting candy as possible.

Now, some houses are easy to approach, decked out with cute scarecrows and pumpkins. Kids eagerly walk right up to the door, ring the doorbell and gleefully exclaim, “Trick or treat!” The nice old man or woman comments on their cuteness and gives them a FUN-sized Snickers and it’s off to the next house. (By the way, how in the world is bite-sized candy “FUN”? If you made reservations to a fancy restaurant, ordered a filet mignon and the most expensive Cabernet Sauvignon, then the waitress brought you a bite-sized piece of steak and a swig of wine, you would probably be pissed off. So let’s all agree that FUN-sized is no fun at all.)

The next house seems much less inviting. The house looks like Freddie Kruger’s lair. Smoke slowly rises from the cemetery-like ground as echoes of witches and ghosts bellow from places unknown. Trick-or-Treaters aren’t so quick to run up to the door. The house is scary, causing some kids to feel uneasy and apprehensive. The expression on their faces scream, “HELL NO!” Immediately following the initial thought sparks an internal debate… “What if there is a big reward like a FULL sized candy bar. Should I go up to the door?”Anxiously, the scared kid walks cautiously up to the door fearful of what “might” happen. The child decides to proceed with caution and sheepishly knocks on the door.

The child realizes the reward is worth the risk. The reward can come in two forms and both have tremendous benefits. First of all, the homeowner can open the door and hand the kid a FULL size Snickers bar. That is equal to ten houses giving out one “FUN” sized candy nugget. The little trick-or-treater proudly exclaims, “SCORE!”

There is another potential reward, though it may not be immediately noticeable. What if no one is home? Was it worth risking or wasting your time when you could be at some other house? The answer is YES! Every time you take a risk, face a fear or challenge yourself, you build emotional and mental equity. This equity helps you take other risks in the future. The more equity you build, the more fear loses its grip. Taking risks, no matter how big or small, gives you mental strength to act despite fear in the future. As you continue to take calculated risks, your confidence grows and opens up greater opportunities for you to experience. I’d venture to say that building mental and emotional equity is more valuable than any amount of Halloween candy.

The moral is this… Sometimes, you just have to say, “WTF” (“Why the Fear?”) and go knock on that door. HAPPY HALLOWEEN everybody!