When you are a little kid you are afraid of a lot of things. Maybe it is the dark, thunderstorms, or in my case, the idea there was some wolf lurking right outside my house waiting to eat me. That thought probably came from reading Little Red Riding Hood, but still I believed there was a great possibility of it happening to me. I always thought that the grownups I knew were brave individuals who weren’t afraid of anything and that one day, when I was their age, I wouldn’t be afraid of anything, either. However, I have quickly learned nothing could be further from the truth. No matter how old we get, we all have our fears; some of them are just different than what they were when we were five years old.
What is even worse than having fears, is having to face them; and in the last two weeks I have had to face three of my biggest ones. It all started when a bee, specifically a yellow jacket, found its way into my house one afternoon. I am not a fan of anything that flies and can inflict pain on me for no apparent reason. Normally, I would lock myself in another room until someone else killed it for me, but seeing as I was there alone, I had to do the dirty work myself. I am sure I was a sight for my neighbors to see, stalking my prey through the house armed with Lysol to stun it, (I had no wasp spray or anything else) and my Swiffer Sweeper to smash it. Yet, no matter how ridiculous I looked, the point is I faced my fear and was able to conquer it. Score at the end of round one: Ashley: 1, Fear: 0.
My next problem I had known was coming for a while, which gave me plenty of time to stress over the situation. We got a call at the paper a few weeks ago about speaking to one of Coach Gill’s classes at the high school to share how we cover what goes on in our community. Wel,l I was selected as the lucky one to go, which was fine except for one major issue… I absolutely hate speaking in front of a group of people. I get all nervous, turn red, my voice gets shaky; it’s just not something I seek out to do. Finally, the day arrived and I felt a little better knowing I had come up with a few points to mention, but was still apprehensive about the whole ordeal. Once I started speaking though, a miracle happened and the words just came to me. I was able to tell the students about the world of community news without missing a beat and even had a couple students ask questions, so at least I know those two were listening, even if the others were just glad I was there to get them out of doing class work. All in all, it was a much better experience than what I had conjured up in my head, so I count that as a success. Score at the end of round two: Ashley: 2 Fear: 0.
The final fear that I faced, or rather I should say am facing now, is a big one and one I think that most people share. Saying goodbye to a friend is never an easy thing to do, but sometimes it is necessary because life just takes us each down different paths. It is something I have had to do more times than I would like to in the last few years and now I have to do it again. I have a good friend who has recently accepted a new job and I honestly couldn’t be happier for him. I know in my heart this is the right move for him both in his professional and personal life and will only help him to continue on the path to achieving his goals in life. However, there is still the selfish part of me that doesn’t want us to part ways just yet. I know that through email, phone calls, text messages and the use of Facebook, it will be easier for us to keep in contact than ever before. But, I also know it will be different and change is always a hard pill to swallow. He was one of the first people to befriend me when I came to Thomaston three and a half years ago and I hope he knows how much his friendship has meant to me over the years and how much I am going to miss him. Score at the end of round three: Ashley: (a very reluctant) 3 Fear: 0.
There is an Eleanor Roosevelt quote that I think is fitting for the end of this column and something we should all keep in mind. She said, “You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”
Three big fears faced in two weeks… that has to be some kind of personal record. Here’s to hoping I don’t break it anytime soon.