Not Being a Good Person.
These are my top three fears in life. Sure I have other fears like bugs and such, but these three are the fears that leave me paralyzed. These are the fears that trigger my anxiety in stressful situations. These BIG THREE are the fears that haunt my dreams at night.
Today’s chapter of Harry Potter is perfect when reading through the lens of fear. The chapter begins with the return of an injured (if we must) Draco who milks his injury throughout all of Potions in order to get Ron and Harry to have to cut up and ready his ingredients. While Professor Snape ensures Potter and Weasley are cutting up Draco’s potion parts correctly, he also makes time to harass Neville. When Neville’s potion is orange instead of green, Snape uses fear tactics to try and motivate Neville (threatening Neville’s frog who will have to drink the potion at the end of class). Hermione helps Neville and the frog survives but Gryffindor loses points because of it. When they get to Defense of the Dark Arts, Lupin takes them on a field trip to the staffroom to face a boggart, a shape-shifting creature that turns into your biggest fear. Neville is up first, disclosing that his biggest fear is professor snare. Lupin encourages Neville to imagine his grandmother’s clothing and once the boggarts turns into Snape to cast the spell and watch Snape be dressed in that clothing. Everyone gets chance to face their fear except Harry. When Harry is up to bat, Lupin intervenes and then let’s Neville finish the boggart off, ending class.
What’s interesting about this chapter is that Neville faces his fears at least twice and each time he has a little help. The first is in Potions class when Snape is threatening to poison his frog. Hermione intervenes whispering how to fix Neville’s potion. The second time in with the boggart and Lupin walks Neville through how to go about facing that fear. He never truly has to face a fear alone. On the flip side Harry is never given the chance to face his own fear. Better yet he sits alone with it letting one fear grow from another. We later find out why Professor Lupin lets this happen, but in the moment for Harry leaves class feeling weak.
There have been a lot of moments in my life where I have let my BIG THREE take over and consume my thoughts. I put off law school for five years because of those fears. I would reach out to friends or to family for help, but they couldn’t help and instead I would just sit there letting the fear of being selfish evolve into not being a good person and that evolve into being a failure. A lot of times I didn’t know how to get out of the cycle of anxious thoughts wrapping themselves around these fears and letting my mind spiral into a frenzy of what-ifs. Then one day a friend did help and gave me the phone number of a therapist that was trained to help people work through those fears and anxiety.
Facing fears is not an easy thing. Sometimes you need help and sometimes you have to pick yourself up and take control back over those fears. Neville got help in facing his fears and then when he finished off the boggart (his second turn) he didn’t need anyone to walk him through it, he just got up and did it. Its not always easy to do, but once you start to face your fears and find ways to manage your fears and really just decide to take back the responsibility of your life from those fears you do become a lot stronger. Going to Italy, Finishing 1L year, facing my grades from first semester, moving to a new city full of strangers… those were all moments where I had to face fears. Better yet, I’m still facing fears by starting new jobs, wading through my insecurities about being too selfish when I do things for myself or tell people no, and by going into my 2L year.
The key to facing your fears is getting help when you can and then pushing forward on your own. It may not always seem like it, but you can find help everywhere, you just have to be open to it. Keep facing those fears and don’t let them dictate your life.
Until Next Time,