The Teen Take: Fear is natural — but it shouldn’t take over your life

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Emily Ritter-Riegling is a Grade 9 student at Prince Charles Secondary School.

Emily Ritter-Riegling is a Grade 9 student at Prince Charles Secondary School.

Fear. It’s something we all feel. It doesn’t matter our age or gender, religion or race. It’s a thing that can unite the world and also destroy it.

When you are younger, your fears tend to be irrational, like the fear of the monster under your bed or the bogeyman in the closet. The thing is, you can check under the bed and in the closet and see that there’s nothing there.

As you get older, however, your fears become more realistic, more likely. You fear things that actually happen to people or things that are inevitable, like graduating and leaving home, or getting cancer. As youth we start to understand these fears as we begin to make better sense of the world around us. But how are we supposed to deal with it? We see bad things happen in the world and fear that they could happen to us as well.

The thing is, if you spend your whole life worrying about what could happen, you will drive yourself insane. Fear makes you paranoid and skeptical. You begin to not take risks and not live your life to its full extent. The older you get, the more fears you collect, but also the more fears you lose due to experience.

Youth lack that experience in the real world. This could cause some of the fears we feel. We can’t really know if most things are a true threat or something we just got worked up over. We need to live through things to know if we really fear them or not.

You can’t change what frightens you but you can change how you react to fear because you can’t check everyone’s bag to find a gun or have health exams all the time. Sometimes bad things happen, but it can’t make you stop enjoying life.

Sometimes the fear is worse than the actual thing. It’s like the worry before a test but as soon as you get it you realize there’s no real reason to freak out. It can be the opposite, though, too. Everything in life is so inconsistent and unsure that we can never really know.

I feel as though teens try to live in their own little bubble to try and force away the fear. We really feel no need to worry until we graduate but then suddenly we’re in second semester of Grade 12 and are half scared to death.

So, fear. Is there even anything we can do about it? Since the beginning of life there has been fear and it has saved lives. We can’t forget that we are scared for a reason and that we need to know when we are threatened. But we can’t let it take over our lives. We can’t let fear win.

Emily Ritter-Riegling is a Grade 9 student at Prince Charles Secondary School. The Teen Take is a column co-ordinated by Creston’s Teen Action Committee.