By Debbie Ogunjobi

“Fear of self is the greatest of all terrors, the deepest of all dread, and the commonest of all mistakes. From it grows failure. Because of it, life is a mockery; out of it comes despair”
(David Seabury).

From all indications what we fear most is what our eventual reality is. My closest friend and I share one thing in common and it is the realisation that most of our fears have all become reality; in the process of disappointments, failures and countless heartbreak, we both agree that we seem to have inadvertently attracted all that we dreaded.

Maybe in some parts of our consciousness we have privy knowledge of future happenings and that is why we are so afraid of them. Or it could be that we know our shortcomings and are terrified that those very shortcomings will somehow manifest at the worst possible time. The most common nightmare  for all of mankind is the one where one is being chased by something and find it impossible to either run or even put up any form of defence; that is when the strongest or bravest of us come to term with fear on the subconscious. What is becoming more apparent to me as I grow older is that our greatest fear is not some bogey/demonic creature that comes to terrorise us but that the monster we fear the most is as familiar to us as possible; the monster is no one but us!

So when is childhood finally over? By all definitions it’s probably expected that the dawn of adulthood begins when the law recognises a person as a legal entity. In some countries it’s 18 years and others it’s 21 years, but the real question is: when does a switch of wisdom get turned on and we are no longer children? I sat down to observe a woman my age finally grow up and I realise for most of us, age is not really the gauge of adulthood.

Adulthood is that time when you let go all your dreams and start making a commitment to the reality of life’s situation. Making a commitment to reality means taking the bull by the horns and finally stop expecting anyone to make things better. Growing up happens when one is able to embrace the fear, let go of the dread, forgive oneself for the mistakes and come out of the shadow of despair. Despair is the camp that can put life on hold when we have too many expectations of others.

Women have been trained or should I say brainwashed to have too many expectations; even the most independent of us has expectations of someone special who provides and protects. It’s how we live till we adjust expectation and make room for the possibility that the knight in shining armour is actually us!! A few days ago, I observed someone have a complete emotional detox and opened the dams of emotional baggage locked behind many gates of denial and false bravado.

It always takes the right button to push one over the edge and there is nothing like the clarity that comes with the final acceptance of just accepting reality in all of its glory or ingloriousness. It’s very sobering to realise that the bogey man most of us fear is our very self; that our greatest fear is not that people will let us down or hurt us but that our choices for which we alone are responsible will hurt us and let us down.

So how does one conquer fear? How on earth do you let go of people and situations that give more life to our fears? The answer is easy; most of us know it; we have to take responsibility; take back the control of our lives and begin to live! It sounds really easy but it’s heartbreakingly hard and this I say from the heart! Control is normally in the hands of those we love who may or may not love us, control is often in the hands of unfriendly friends those I call frenemies and a large chunk of control is in the hands of family some of whom are made in the image of Cain.

It’s a solitary road to self actualisation; on that road, we can begin to see all that we fear as opportunities to grow, to finally make the transition into the long awaited and overdue embrace of adulthood and accept that we deserve better than hiding behind excuses and make the long awaited commitment to reality. For those of us for whom the cap fits; it’s time to grow up to realise that the only thing we really have to fear is fear itself!

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