Look at this!” Cindy handed me her cell phone.
“PRNewswire: 84% of People Hold Onto an Irrational Fear
Irrational fears, ranging from using the coffee machine to wearing the wrong clothes, to an office crush finding out, are keeping people awake and preventing them from being successful, according to new research…” I read it and yawned.
“Mary, numbers don’t lie – 84% of the pop-u-lay-tion, is crippled by fear!” When my sister gets excited, she enunciates her syllables.
“You are the exception; I’m the rule. Here’s proof.” She said.
Always the skeptic, and not willing to give in too quickly to my older sis, I called: “Jackass Territory!”
That’s a code our family uses when someone, or in this case: some study, makes up stuff to prove a point.
I read further and discovered the new research was commissioned by a copier company trying to market easy-to-use office products. Nice try.
But to be fair to Cindy, she makes a reasonable point. She’s not the only one who lives with fear. It’s a problem for a lot of good people. But 84%? I don’t buy it.
Cindy and I are “Irish twins.” We’re less than a year apart in age and closeasthis (my fingers are crossed).
We look alike; same make and model, we like to do a lot of the same things, and we love the same people. But, we are wired as different as two people can be.
I’m a daredevil. I’ll try anything, go anywhere, I have no fear. Cindy can’t shake the feeling that disaster is lurking at every corner.
Her anxiety didn’t start with any one incident. She was born with a fearful disposition. As far back as I can remember, it’s me coaxing Cindy to “try it.” Riding a bike, ringing a doorbell on Halloween, asking out a guy for high school turn-about dance, Cindy could not get up the nerve to do it. She tells me I’m the oddball, and maybe she’s right. But I couldn’t help but feel it’s Cindy and those like her who are missing out.
Cindy made her way, tiptoeing through the life stages and making careful, safe choices. She chose Charlie, which was a big plus in the win column. Theirs was a match made in heaven.
Charlie and Cindy met at a post-college church retreat. Within one month, they became engaged; they got married two months later. That was Cindy’s first bold move, and it worked out. There were more to come.
Charlie was able to gently persuade Cindy to venture out of her comfort zone. She quit her admin job and applied to nursing school. She took the chance, and now she’s an R.N.
Cindy took the biggest leap of faith ever when she became pregnant. Her pregnancy was fraught with fear. Sadly, the failure she spent her entire life avoiding, came crashing down with a late-term miscarriage.
When Charlie and Cindy lost the baby, my sister surprised us all. The worst had happened, and she rose to the challenge. Cindy closed the door to the nursery, and stoically said, “We’ll try again.”
Two long years later, Gwendolyn was born. The ecstatic parents brought their newborn home from the hospital with a cheering crowd of relatives waiting at the house. I was front and center, bursting with pride and celebrating my sister’s happiness.
Her happiness didn’t last long. Charlie died suddenly from a heart attack at only thirty-eight years young. The worst happened again. Cindy’s greatest fear came true.
But my sister’s mourning was short and private. She had a daughter to raise. All the lessons she learned from being Charlie’s wife paid off; she amazed us all with her strength. She is strong and secure.
We still tease one another and play our little games of fear factoids one-upmanship. But I’ll tell you this; I admire my sister more with each passing day. She’s the one who taught me one character trait is not necessarily better than another. God doesn’t have a single recipe for peaceful living. I may be fearless, and Cindy may be fearful, but we both get by and do a darn good job making the best of what we’re given.
About this story: I started out being insulted by the self-serving press report about fear designed to sell copiers. It made think about how many people truly have a problem being overpowered by fear. I thought about the people close to me, and I recognized that I have a cousin whose nature it is to be fearful. She has had her share of tragedy and ill health, yet she is strong. She is someone I admire very much. There are heroes among us who lead happy lives and overcome when the “worst” happens. This story is for them.